An MP is sponsoring a private bill that would give police more powers to seize dogs after serious livestock-worrying incidents.

Suffolk Coastal MP and former environment secretary Thérèse Coffey has worked closely with the National Farmers' Union (NFU) on the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) Bill which is going through parliament. The bill is due to reach committee stage this week.

If passed, the new laws which would give police more powers to tackle dog attacks on livestock with police able to take evidence samples from livestock and dogs to help with investigations.

Dr Coffey met with members of Suffolk National Farmers' Union (NFU) at her constituency office in Woodbridge to gather information and case studies ahead of the bill going to the committee stage tomorrow (April 24).

East Anglian Daily Times:

“I think the bill will make a real impact and collaboration with the NFU and the farming community has been key to this," she said.

“Giving police more powers and some high-profile prosecutions should act as a strong deterrent and encourage people to be responsible dog owners.

“I hope the bill will generate a significant national publicity campaign to raise help raise awareness about the importance of keeping a dog on a lead around livestock.”

Insurers NFU Mutual published figures in February which showed farm animals worth an estimated £2.4m were severely injured or killed by dogs in 2023 - up nearly 30% from the previous year.

Livestock worrying is a criminal offence  and encompasses barking, chasing, biting and killing.

Dog owners can be liable for prosecution or a fine - and under the Animals Act 1971, a dog can be shot if caught in the act by a landowner.

Livestock such as sheep can suffer stress leading to miscarriage or terrible injuries.

NFU county adviser for Suffolk Ella Thackray said: “Sadly livestock worrying continues to be a major issue for many farmers in Suffolk and other parts of the country.

“This has a financial impact and it’s really awful to see the animals suffering in this way.

“We urge people to keep their dogs on a lead around livestock and make sure their gardens are secure.

“If this bill is passed, it will be really good news and we thank Thérèse Coffey for working on this with us.

“We will be encouraging our members to report incidents of livestock worrying to help to make a positive impact in reducing the number of incidents that are happening.”