Following a spate of accidents involving dogs, Thames Valley Police are launching a campaign to encourage owners to keep their pets on leads.

“We are working on raising awareness of the need to keep dogs on leads around horses after a number of serious incidents where horses have been startled by a loose dog, causing the riders and horses to suffer serious injuries,” PC Kevin Simmons told H&H.

poster mainThe force has also produced a poster that reads: “Keep your dog on its lead around horses. If your loose dog causes injury, you could be charged with a criminal offence”.

“I’m sure you will find that if you speak to any horse rider, they are quite likely to have been involved in such an incident even if very minor,” added PC Simmons.

“We are requesting dog and horse owners to show consideration to each other. It is important to highlight that a horse may not be able to see the difference between attack and play, the end result being the same which sadly can be a serious injury to rider, horse and or dog.

“There have been a number of incidents recently, including one where two riders were thrown, both being hospitalised with one in a coma. There was also an incident where the rider was thrown, the horse bolted and impaled itself on a fence.

“A nasty incident can easily be avoided by doing something as simple as putting your dog on a lead around horses.”

A record high

Earlier this year, H&H reported that the British Horse Society had received a record number of reports with incidents involving dogs, Thirty nine incidents were reported to the organisation in March — three times higher than the similar time the year before. The previous high was 29 in May 2014.

They involved attacks on horses loose in the field, being led, ridden and driven.
“Since March, the number of incidents reported to us has reduced slightly, but has continued to be well above average. Unfortunately, some of the incidents reported to us have had horrific consequences, both physically and emotionally for both horse and rider,” Sheila Hardy of the BHS told H&H.

“We work very closely with the police, and are in agreement with PC Keith Evans, Dog Legislation Officer and advisor to the National Police Chief’s Council lead on equine affairs and dangerous dogs that there are a number of reasons we have seen this increase, not least a greater awareness among the equestrian community that they do not have to tolerate incidents of irresponsible dog ownership — as well as trust and confidence within the equine community that any such incident reported to the Police shall be dealt with appropriately.”

To report an incident, visit: www.horseaccidents.org.uk