Binbrook farmer’s plea after dog owner sentenced

Lincoln Magistrates' Court EMN-180514-184727001
Lincoln Magistrates' Court EMN-180514-184727001

A distressed farmer whose sheep were ‘worried’ by a loose dog is calling on owners to be more responsible.

Binbrook farmer Stuart Jarvis has spoken out after the owner of the dog that worried his livestock was prosecuted at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (May 10).

Catherine Whileman, 54, of Windsmoor Road, Brookenby, has been fined £200 for being the owner of a dog which worried sheep on agricultural land at Binbrook on November 7 last year.

The hearing went ahead without Whileman present and the case was proved in her absence - she had not entered a plea.

Whileman has been ordered to pay £330 compensation to Mr Jarvis and she must also pay £85 costs to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Jarvis said: “It makes you feel angry.

“You wish you could have been there to help the sheep, they have no defence at all.

“There’s so much of this [sheep worrying] going on up and down the country.

“Dog owners need to be more responsible.”

And Mr Jarvis said he was disappointed the defendant, Catherine Whileman did not turn up for the court hearing.

He said: “If they [the owner] don’t turn up the magistrates can’t give them a slap on the wrist, the only way to do it is to hit them financially.

“But I’m still glad it’s done and dusted.”

Mr Jarvis said he estimated the incident resulted in about £850 of losses.

He said: “We had on our claim form £850 of losses but were only awarded £330 of it.

“We feel it wasn’t really just about money.

“It was about getting them [the owner] to court and proved guilty and having a criminal record.”

Back in March the National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society made calls for owners to keep their pets under control when they visit the countryside after a sharp rise in attacks on sheep and lambs by dogs.

The peak time for dog attacks on farm animals is January to April, says NFU Mutual.

The average cost of claims for farm animals killed or injured by dogs dealt with by NFU Mutual now more than doubles during the first three months of the year.

In 2017 the Midlands was the worst affected English region with an estimated cost to farming of £280,000.

NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Tim Price said: “These attacks cause tremendous suffering to livestock and are hugely distressing for farmers who have to deal with aftermath of an attack.”

What is sheep worrying?

Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, if a dog worries sheep on agricultural land, the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence.

The Act considers sheep worrying to include attacking sheep, chasing them in a way that may cause injury, suffering, abortion or loss of produce or being at large (not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

The Countryside Code offers advice on walking dogs near livestock, as well as other information on how to enjoy a responsible trip to a rural area.