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Operation Recall - Protect Livestock / Protect Your Dogs

Operation RECALL: UK Police and charities join forces to launch operation to tackle livestock attacks 

We regularly hear of the devastation caused by loose dogs attacking sheep in the British countryside. Only recently, an incident in Devon left 43 sheep dead and more injured after the brutal attack by dogs, which is now being investigated as a crime by Devon & Cornwall Police. 


Last year, Operation Recall was born, with national animal welfare charities, including Naturewatch Foundation and the RSPCA, joining forces with police and the National Rural Crime Unit (NRCU) to launch the strategic project to tackle the issue.

Launched in October with Cheshire Police, Operation Recall has so far been used to create a hard-hitting video, which now forms part of the mandatory caution system, should an offender be eligible. This means that if they avoid a court appearance for their criminal actions, they must watch the educational video to
understand the devastating consequences of their actions. A shorter version of the video can be viewed here: 

From the 27th of March to the 3rd of April, over the Easter weekend, police forces up and down the country are planning events for the Operation Recall week of action to raise awareness with the public and provide tips on how to keep our family pets safe, as well as livestock.

The National Farmers’ Union Mutual (NFU Mutual) Rural Crime Report 2023 showed a 50% increase in costs associated with dog attacks on livestock since 2019. This increase comes at a time when there has been huge growth in dog ownership since Covid-19 lockdowns began in early 2020. You can view the report in full here: https://indd.adobe.com/view/8ad1d55c-decd-41ed-9098-8e73758f07d8

PC Jim Clark of Cheshire Police said, “The Operation Recall week of action running nationally from the 27th March to the 3rd April 2024 is hoping to highlight such issues and with a view to protect livestock and dogs. We hope you enjoy the countryside with the knowledge that the police and our partners across the country will be in high footfall areas to educate and enforce if required.’’

Figures suggest that, as a consequence of dog attacks on farm animals, at least one dog a week is shot. Read more on these statistics in this article by the BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35960051

Kate Salmon, Operation Recall lead for Naturewatch Foundation, said, “The consequences of attacks for all animals involved can be devastating. Some people go out for a walk with their dog, or unknowingly allow their dog to escape their property and return home without their family pet. With more awareness and self-responsibility, people can enjoy their pets, whilst keeping them and livestock
safe. We’re calling for everyone to protect their dog and protect livestock.”

Naturewatch Foundation have worked alongside police and the RSPCA to run a public-focused pledge whereby the public are encouraged to pledge to a few simple prevention tips to protect their dogs and protect livestock. Any responsible dog owner wishing to sign the Operation Recall pledge can do
so here: https://action.naturewatch.org/take-lead-and-sign-pledge-animals

The RSPCA’s advice is to keep dogs on leads around livestock, and Geoff Edmond, national wildlife coordinator at the RSPCA, said: “No one wants to see animals suffer and whilst the vast majority of dog owners take care as a matter of course, sadly accidents can happen and even the most docile and obedient dogs can get distracted and excited by grazing animals. By listening to the advice and getting behind Operation Recall the public can end such unnecessary incidents. Some actions in life we can’t avoid. This one we can.’

Operation Recall events are taking place up and down the country during the week of action. To find out how your local police force is taking part, follow their Rural Crime Team social media pages to keep up to date.

PC Jim Clark said, “Operation Recall does not want to deter people from going out in the countryside or where livestock may be; it is about knowing how to respect those areas. Throughout the entire campaign, our key message and most important piece of advice is that keeping a dog on a lead is the best and safest way to ensure the safety of the dog and any other animals in the area.”

For more information on Operation Recall, visit the information page at: https://naturewatch.org/campaigns/operation-recall/

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Lawrence Grant
(Humberside Police, PC, Wildlife and Rural Crime Officer - Southbank)

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