My sheep have recently been twice attacked by a dog and several injured. What is the legal position regarding shooting a dog under these circumstances?

First, though the owner of a dog worrying sheep is committing a criminal offence, the law creating this offence does not empower the farmer to shoot the dog. These days a farmer who shoots someone’s marauding dog is quite likely to be charged with criminal damage. If he is, then his defence will be likely to show he has reasonable excuse as he was protecting his sheep, which are his property. The farmer would have a similar defence to a civil action taken against him for shooting an offending dog.

He would also need to have notified the police within 48 hours of the shooting.

As to using a rifle to shoot a dog, it must be appreciated that a dog is not vermin, as vermin is, by definition, wild. Therefore, a rifle conditioned only for the shooting of vermin or pests would not be conditioned to shoot a dog, unless the certificate had printed on it (as some do) an additional condition authorising the holder to use the rifle for the shooting of animals for the protection of other animals

  • Bert ploughright

    It is best to shoot at the owner of the dog if they are worrying your sheep. This is what I would do.

  • shirley

    our family dog was shot dead last sunday, we phoned evrywere the police and cenels it wasent intill the tusday that the police told us a dog was shot on the sunday , aparently the farmes ses he was killing lams he had no blood on him his paws were cleen and we cant belive he would do this as his so frendly even towords our hamster and kitten , the farmer wants 120 pawnds for 2 lams, we think he dident do this and he was shot a fer destans from were we live hed haveto cross a bizzy to , we think something not right and are devastated wat can we do if we think he was inorsent

  • carl johansson

    gun toting thugs nobody should have gun far im concerned famers are a law un-too themselves it all to easy for them to shoot pets as well as mauradind dogs and not hve to answer for there actions all guns should be banned

  • hans van Leenhoff

    Whats wrong with using a spray containing ammonia to deter dogs attacking farm animals? Their sense of smell has an immediate non-lethal effect and the dog won’t be back for more of the same.

  • Mike Hemingway

    As a retired rural police officer, I would say this. Should the legal owner of sheep or any vulnerable farm stock witness the dogs in the act od attacking the sheep. he or his employee is quite entitled to shoot the dog(s) if there is no other way to stop them. He is obliged to inform the local police in person, not by phone,within 24 hours with full details of his action, and complete a Form to this effect. He can then seek compensation from the owners of the dogs for any financial loss he has incurred. Mr Field is correct when he states that the dogs must be in the act of attacking sheep. If the dog is caught, a vet will cause the dog to vomit, and if fresh wool is in the vomit, again the offence is complete.

  • Xan

    As dogs are pets, they are protected by more than just ‘property’ law. Livestock do not have as many rights as dogs, pets are protected through animal rights acts. Furthermore, if your dog is shot by a farmer you in turn have the right to shoot the farmer as you are protecting your family pet. In addition, to make my position clear, if any farmer were to shoot my dog for any reason I would kill him. I would rather go to jail knowing I had defended my family pet than do nothing and let him go free. Let that be a warning in advance. Shoot my dog: you die.

  • sandra mcneil

    my lovely dogs got out when someone turned the key on theoutside of the door,i notified the police right away and looked all overwith no luck,then the police told us they where shot but not the farmer but by a gun club friend of his is this allowed,they were very friendly and clean could they not have called them over and saw there identity tags,or phoned the police who knew all about them getting out.i am really devistated.

  • David Heap

    Farmers think that they have the sole right to shoot dog’s regardless. They do not, especially when they shoot dead a neighbours cattle dog’s out of spite. Shooting ‘Townies’ dog’s then threatening the owners of all kinds of tales of Police etc does not wash when it is used on real Farmers.

  • philip hudson

    shoot the f**king dog

  • Oliver Bennett

    i think it is an absolute disgrace that dogwalkers stroll through fields as if they own them when they dont and after asking many people to put there dogs on there leads and getting knowhere can only mean taken action such as shooting the dog!!!

  • Billy Field

    With reference to the above,if you have to resort to shooting dog/s. You must ensure that you do so when they are in the act of “worrying” the sheep, for once they have stopped, you no longer have that option. Further more there is another offence being committed by the owner of the dog or the person being responsible for it at the time. This comes under para’ 3, section 3 of the “Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.” Section three normally covers dogs being dangerously out of control in a public place, para’ 3 of section 3 however mentions dogs that go onto areas that are not a public place and are dangerously out of control. If it then bites someone it becomes an aggravated offence.
    The problem you will have however is getting the police to enforce this. They will be either unaware of it or say they are unable to enforce unless the dog bites someone. This is not correct, the act does mention it can only be applied once someone has been bitten but if someone is bitten it then becomes an aggravated offence.
    I would argue that in the process of protecting your sheep from marauding dogs you had every reason to believe you could be bitten.
    We in the rural community are only to aware of people trying to use the law against us it’s about time we used it to our advantage!