In a bid to reduce the number of dog attacks on horses the British Horse Society (BHS) has made several recommendations to the government.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has come up with a series of measures to tackle irresponsible ownership of dogs, and has asked for feedback from anyone affected by bad canine behaviour.
The key proposals include compulsory microchipping, removing the need for all dogs to be put in kennels when court proceedings are pending, and making it a criminal offence to have a dog that is dangerously out of control on private property.
Since the BHS launched its Horse Accidents website in November 2010 it has received 316 reports of dog attacks on horses.
“Even when a dog chases a horse, but does not attack, it can have serious emotional, physical and financial consequences for horses, owners and riders,” said Sheila Hardy from the BHS safety department. “They can also deprive other equestrians of exercise and access to the countryside by deterring them from using routes.”
The equine charity believes that calling for all dogs to be microchipped and logged on a single database will enable the courts to track down and prosecute the owners of dogs that attack a horse or rider.
It also agrees with DEFRA’s proposal to extend the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to include private property. According to Sheila, it is not always possible to prosecute someone if their dog has attacked a horse and rider, if the incident occured outside the current definition of a public place as set out within the Act.
Finally, the BHS recommends that the government make it an offence for dogs to attack horses and other animals. “A horse that is chased onto a public highway can result in tragic consequences, not just for the horse but the driver and passengers of the vehicle that hits it,” Sheila added.