Caution urged for dog owners as lambing season begins
SPCA is urging dog owners, particularly those living near lifestyle blocks, to take extra care and keep track of their pets at all times, as early lambing season gets underway.
Every year sheep and lambs are injured or killed by roaming dogs in attacks that are not only traumatic for animals and people involved, but are often completely avoidable through responsible dog ownership.
With 175,000 lifestyle blocks nationwide and rural properties continuing to grow in popularity, SPCA Scientific Officer Dr Alison Vaughan says it’s important for dog owners – particularly those living in rural areas – to make sure their dog is secured and unable to roam.
“This is a key part of responsible pet ownership - making sure you know where your animal is at all times and that you have them under control, whether that’s on a leash when out walking or in a fenced yard or inside your property,” says Dr Vaughan.
Those with stock on lifestyle blocks, including sheep, lambs, goats and alpacas, should remain vigilant of roaming dogs and regularly check on their animals. Dogs running around ewes can cause extreme stress, which can trigger miscarriage in those that are pregnant or, for ewes who’ve already birthed lambs, can cause them to abandon or starve their lambs.
"By walking in areas where there are no dog restrictions and keeping your dog on a leash,you avoid the chance that your dog may cause stress to these animals or attack,” says Dr Vaughan.
With several known attacks already this year, lambing season is a timely reminder for dog owners to be aware of their responsibilities under the Dog Control Act 1996. Owners of dogs caught harassing sheep are liable for a hefty fine, as well as compensation for any loss of stock.
The Act also protects the right of farmers to shoot a dog disturbing their stock in certain circumstances and gives courts the power to order destruction (euthanasia) of the dog.
Some public walks through properties with farmed animals may also be temporarily closed during lambing season to protect these vulnerable animals. Owners should refer to their local Council website for areas with dog restrictions. Anyone concerned about dogs roaming near lifestyle blocks or farm animals should contact their local council.