NFU Mutual statistics reveal dog attacks on farm animals in the South East cost estimated £115,000.
64% of dog owners say they let their pet roam free in the countryside - yet half admit their dog doesn't always come back when called.
Growing concerns the spring lockdown will see an influx of walkers unfamiliar with the countryside code and unaware of how their new dogs will behave around livestock.
Sheep farmers under stress as they enter the peak lambing period when pregnant ewes and new born lambs are vulnerable to attack.
New statistics released by leading rural insurer NFU Mutual today (Tuesday 2 February), estimate the cost of dog attacks on farm animals across the South East reached nearly £115,000 last year.
A recent survey of dog owners commissioned by NFU Mutual reveals that 64% of dog owners are letting their pets roam free in the countryside, despite half of owners surveyed admitting their dog doesn't always come back when called.
The research revealed that 42% of dog owners have been walking their pets more often in the countryside during the pandemic, and that 81% of survey respondents have noticed more people exercising their pets in rural areas.
Alarmingly, only 40% of the dog owners surveyed accepted that their pet could cause the injury or death of a farm animal.
Rebecca explained, "Even if a dog doesn't make physical contact, the distress and exhaustion of the chase can cause sheep to die or miscarry their lambs. It's important that owners realise that all dog breeds, not just the big, fierce looking ones, are capable of attacking livestock, or chasing them."
Owners' responses to seeing dogs attacking livestock have also changed during the pandemic, with only 33% saying they would report an attack taking place to police or a local farmer.
In 2020, the UK cost of dog attacks on livestock reached an estimated £1.3m - an overall increase of over 10%.
With lambing season approaching and many more people planning to walk in the countryside - including those with new lockdown puppies - NFU Mutual is calling for dog owners to keep their pets under control at all times.
To make dog walking safe, NFU Mutual is issuing the following advice:
Always keep dogs on the lead when walking in rural areas where livestock are kept but let go of the lead if chased by cattle
Be aware that even small lap dogs can chase, injure and kill farm animals
Take special care to keep close control of dogs unused to farm animals
Report attacks by dogs and sightings of dogs roaming the countryside to the police or local farmers
Don't let dogs loose in gardens adjoining livestock fields - many attacks are caused by dogs which escape and attack sheep grazing nearby
More information here: