Some hard truths

The Millennium Country Park is a great place to walk a dog and thankfully lots of people are totally responsible and keep their dog on a lead. A few people are responsible and have the dog off a lead, but under close control.

But I hate to break it to you - the vast majority of you who have your dog off the lead do not have your dog under close control. Unless your dog is right by your side, or immediately can be recalled – it’s not under close control. Sorry to break it to you.

We have had dogs chasing and biting visitors (and staff) and most recently, worrying sheep. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, and you have a dog, then you should be because it’s pretty serious (farmers have the right to shoot dogs for doing this, if they have lawful reason). Here’s the legal description for you:


                Subject to the provisions of this section, if a dog worries livestock on agricultural land, the owner of the dog, and, if it’s in the charge of a person other than its owner, that person also, shall be guilty of an offence under this act.

 Worrying livestock

  1. Attacking livestock
  2. Chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce.
  3. Being at large (this is to say not on a lead or otherwise in close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep

Last week, a dog was running loose in the field on site where a farmer keeps his sheep (nowhere near the publically accessible part of the Park, which makes this even worse). The dog chased a sheep which ended up halfway submerged in a pond, with a torn ear and half of one of its hooves ripped off. It was so traumatised when rescued by rangers, that it couldn’t stand. The dog owner/dog were long gone by this point and weren’t caught, unfortunately. To the owners of this particular dog, who’ve got away with this: you’re very, very lucky. Had the farmer been here and seen lawful reason, he could legally have shot your dog. No part of this story is ok!

If you're telling yourself that your dog wouldn't ever run off into a field where there are sheep - what about if it approaches someone who feels they are going to get bitten - or worse, what if it actually bites someone? There's a first time for everything. You can be fined, and your dog can be put down - even if it doesn't bite someone; even if it just acts like it could bite them. How can this not be enough of a reason for you to keep your dog under control? 

We love all responsible dog owners who visit our Park, but we want to make it very clear that irresponsible dog owners will not be tolerated. We don’t want people in our Park, whether they’re walkers, joggers or fellow dog walkers, to feel unsafe, and we certainly don’t want wildlife or farm animals on site to be chased or attacked. Let’s all be vigilant together on this – report people whose dogs are out of control (either to us, or the Central Bedfordshire dog warden); take photos; ask them to stop. Whatever it takes, we are determined to stop people acting so selfishly in our Park.

And let's all remember - it isn't the dog's fault; it's the owner's.


There is more information about the Dog Control act here. If you have any questions, you can email our Head Ranger or call 01234 767037.