"Any dog that injures a farm animal should face automatic destruction", says a Somerset MP in response to the recently released figures surrounding livestock worrying. 

Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, has responded to figures released by NFU Mutual that says farm animals worth an estimated £2.4million were severly injured or killed by dogs last year

The research also suggests that nearly 70 per cent of owners admit to letting their dogs run free in the countryside while fewer than 50 per cent claim to be able to recall them.

“I cannot help wondering what the reaction would be if a group of farmers turned up in a town or city and unleashed a pack of uncontrollable dogs which then proceeded to tear to bits any pet rabbit, guinea pig or cat within sight,” he said.

“Yet this is precisely what the farming community is having to endure on an almost daily basis.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger said that a bill currently going through Parliament will give police powers to seize dogs suspected of attacking livestock, and detain them if they pose a continued threat.

But he feels this bill 'fell well short' of what was needed to control the situation. 

“Proposals to seize and detain dogs look fine on paper," he said.

"But the reality is that because rural areas are now so under-policed the chances of this legislation having any meaningful impact are very close to zero."

Mr Liddell-Grainger said farmers in his constituency would be worrying about the Easter Holidays approaching. 

“The fields are full of pregnant ewes and new-born lambs, all of which at risk from out-of-control dogs and their totally irresponsible owners,” he said.

“I would remind farmers of their legal right to shoot dogs which are found attacking livestock - though only as a last resort.

“But given the fact that this survey reveals so many dog owners are still untroubled by the havoc their animals can cause clearly means we have to revisit the legislation.

“Any dog that injures a farm animal should face automatic destruction; and we need to increase the maximum fine on owners from £1,000 to £3,000 plus full compensation for the farmer, with a jail term for any repeat offences.

“I am heartened to learn there are some responsible people out there: this survey reveals that if present at an attack, 57 per cent of dog owners would intervene to stop it, 22 per cent would report it to a local farmer and 11 per cent would at least call the police.

“But, sadly, the growing activities of an irresponsible minority are starting to make all dogs unwelcome on farmland even though, if they are properly controlled, they and their owners have a legal right to be there.”