Dogs killing livestock

28 April 2021

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question: 

Two dogs become loose from their home and make their way onto a farm where they then kill 18 chickens belonging to the farmer. Should any offences be recorded?

A criminal damage has been recorded but I am unsure if loose dogs killing farmers chickens meets the points to prove for this offence.

Answer:

Section 1 of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 outlines an offence for the owner of a dog to allow it to worry livestock on agricultural land. Livestock includes domestic poultry such as chickens and worrying livestock includes attacking and chasing them causing injury and suffering. H568 on PNLD outlines the offence and points to prove.

Furthermore, the offence of a dog being dangerously out of control which carries a higher penalty could also be considered. Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 creates offences in relation to dogs being dangerously out of control. A dog is considered as dangerously out of control on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person or assistance dog, whether or not it actually does so. Furthermore, CPS guidance states that if a dog is factually deemed to be acting in a way that could be termed 'dangerously out of control', for example attacking livestock, a prosecution may still be brought, H11473 on PNLD outlines the offence to consider in these circumstances.

Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 may also be relevant in the circumstances – this allows a Magistrates' Court to make an order in respect of a dog, if a complaint is made that the dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control. For the purposes of this provision, dangerous is not limited to meaning dangerous to people, it includes being dangerous to livestock. The order may direct the dog to be kept by the owner under proper control or destroyed.

Additionally, where a keeper of animals has been negligent and has not fulfilled their duty to prevent them from causing harm to others, then a claim under civil law may be pursued – please see section 3 of the Animals Act 1971.

The CPS link below in relation to dangerous dogs also provides further guidance:

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/dangerous-dog-offences

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