Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie has scored a major victory in her campaign to better protect livestock from dog attacks after the Government announced new legislation to toughen up the law.
The Kept Animals Bill will have a Livestock Worrying component to update the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, which is unfit for purpose.
Hundreds of animals – particularly sheep – have been killed in recent years in North Wales after being chased and attacked by dogs.
Virginia has been a vocal supporter of new laws and has met with the police chiefs, DEFRA and the policing minister Kit Malthouse to press her case.
The Bill will amend definitions to broaden the scope of the offence, as well as helping the police deal with and investigate incidents of livestock worrying more effectively.
One key aim is that the livestock worrying offence reflects changing patterns in dog ownership and the keeping of livestock since the 1953 Act was originally passed.
Adequate tools to prevent future incidents, both prior to and after the conclusion of criminal proceedings will also be given to the authorities.
The Government is also proposing to expand the definition of livestock currently protected to cover all species of livestock commonly kept in England and Wales, which may be vulnerable to being attacked or worried by dogs. This includes llamas, ostriches and game birds.
In the most serious cases, the reforms would give police officers the power to seize a dog and detain it until the case comes to court.
“I am really pleased the Government has listened to myself, North Wales Police and farmers across Anglesey and acted to expand and toughen up the law to better protect livestock from worrying,” said Virginia. “I thank everyone for campaigning for this.
“Being able to seize a dog is a big step in the right direction but I will be speaking to ministers to see if more can be incorporated and I will be pressing for the use of dog DNA as evidence and reporting dog attacks as a crime.
“However, these proposals are a step change and a big improvement on the previous legislation. There is more work to do to get the best possible new laws but I am really delighted for farmers on Anglesey and across North Wales that action will be taken to protect more livestock more effectively and better reflect the seriousness of the crime.”