Stray dogs to be shot after sheep attacks in southern France

But animal welfare campaigners say the dogs should be taken to shelters instead

The decree comes after attacks on sheep in Aveyron but animal welfare campaigners say shooting dogs is not necessary

Stray dogs in some communes in southern France are now authorised to be shot if they are seen to be a threat to sheep - but an animal welfare group has already said it will appeal the decree.

The sub-prefect in Aveyron (Occitanie), Véronique Martin Saint-Léon, authorised the killing of dogs that are “stray, wandering, or malicious”, in five communes in the south of the department.

“Any stray dogs identified as having caused damage to [sheep] flocks or likely to do so, and whose capture proves impossible, will be slaughtered,” the decree states. Dogs that are considered to be “out of earshot” or more than 100 metres from their owner will be at risk.

The decree is currently set to last until Friday, May 10, in the communes of La Couvertoirade, L’Hospitalet-du-Larzac, Nant, Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon, and Saint-Jean-Saint-Paul. 

It comes after several sheep were attacked by dogs in the communes, and has been billed as part of the prefecture’s fight against wolves.

However, the decree does not allow just anyone to shoot the dogs; only agents from the OFB (Office français de la biodiversité), and wolf wardens, will be authorised to shoot. 

Dogs are permitted to be shot between 08:00 and 20:00.

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‘Kill, kill, and kill some more’

Animal welfare activists have already shared their opposition to the decree. 

A petition launched by The One Voice Association garnered almost 20,000 signatures in just a few hours. At the time of writing, the petition has almost 82,000 signatures.

The association has already said it will challenge the decree in the administrative court.

Cléa Capelli, at One Voice, said: “The government has chosen the usual solution: kill, kill and kill some more instead of trying to preserve biodiversity and the animal cause! And when the wolves aren't targeted, it's the dogs' turn.”

She said that most flocks in Aveyron are “not protected” because of the “sheep density” in the department. There are more than 110,000 ewes in Aveyron, the association said.

“We know that dogs may be abandoned or lost and are looking for food near livestock farms, but that's no reason to shoot them,” the association said.

It said that Italy had dealt with the problem more humanely, by taking stray dogs to shelters instead of shooting them. France should do the same, the association said.