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The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) Bill is a Private Members’ Presentation Bill, with government support. Explanatory Notes have been provided by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) alongside the Bill.

Livestock worrying by dogs is currently covered by the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 (as amended). The Act makes it an offence to be in charge of a dog that worries livestock on any agricultural land. It defines worrying as:

(a)attacking livestock, or

(b)chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce.

(c)being at large (that is to say not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

The government published an Action Plan for Animal Welfare in May 2021. This set out its intention to legislate to extend the scope of livestock worrying legislation. The Livestock Worrying Police Working Group, made up of police forces across England and Wales, had published a report in in 2018 which included several recommendations:

  • the legal definition of livestock should be extended to include ‘modern farming livestock types’.
  • that dogs should have to be on a lead in any enclosed livestock areas, and that the locations where an offence could be committed should extend to all areas where livestock could be present, including public roads.
  • It recommended powers for police to be able to enter premises to search for a dog, collect samples for evidence and seize dogs to prevent further offences.
  • It also highlighted that the dog owner was not present in 58% of all recorded livestock worrying cases.

In June 2021 the government published a press release announcing that new measures to address livestock worrying were included in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. The Bill would have repealed the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 and set out new, increased powers for the police and a broader scope of livestock species and locations covered under the legislation. The Bill was carried over to the 2022-23 session but eventually withdrawn by the government in May 2023, because of government concerns about ‘scope-creep’.

Rather than replace the existing legislation, as was proposed in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, this Bill would amend the existing legislation.  According to the Explanatory Notes, the proposals will increase the powers available to police for “gaining evidence and subsequently improve police enforcement”. The Bill would also extend the places covered to include roads and paths. It would expand the scope of livestock covered to include camelids, such as llamas and alpacas. The legislation would extend to England and Wales only.


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