Page last updated at 07:44 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 08:44 UK

Dog walkers warned of cow dangers

The field in which the incident is believed to have happened
The latest death happened in St Fagans, on the outskirts of Cardiff

Cases of potentially-deadly stampeding cattle unwittingly spooked by dog walkers are almost certainly set to rise, a farmers' leader has warned.

In part, said Eifion Huws, it was due to cash-strapped "townies" holidaying in the UK at a time of recession and heading for the countryside to relax.

Mr Huws, vice-president of the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW), was speaking at the Royal Welsh Show in Powys.

It comes after a pensioner in south Wales was trampled to death by cows.

Anita Hinchey, 63, from St Georges-super-Ely, Vale of Glamorgan, was walking with a friend in fields at St Fagans, near Cardiff, with a friend at the weekend when she slipped among a herd as she tried to put her dog back on its lead, an inquest heard.

The Health and Safety Executive has interviewed the farmer who owns the land as part of its investigation.

If there is a herd coming down on you and you hold onto your dog you have not got a hope in hell
Eifion Huws, Farmers' Union of Wales

Mrs Hinchey is the third dog walker to be trampled to death by cows in a month.

Barry Pilgrim, 65, was fatally attacked in Sheldon, Derbyshire, and 49-year-old vet Liz Crowsley, from Warrington, Cheshire, was trampled to death by a herd while walking the Pennine Way in Yorkshire with her two dogs.

Health and Safety Executive figures show attacks are rare. Excluding the recent deaths, 18 people have been killed and 481 injured by cows in eight years

However, Mr Huws said cows were instinctively protective of their calves and would act to protect them if they believed they were in danger.

Liz Crowsley
Vet Liz Crowsley was trampled by a herd on the Pennine Way

Walkers who let their pets off their leads in the countryside are tempting fate as a consequence, he said.

Despite a natural urge to protect a pet, if it is charged he advised owners to think only of themselves.

"Even if your dog is still on the lead when it happens, let it go," said Mr Huws, himself a dairy farmer on Anglesey.

"I have seen cows I have known for years turn on me immediately as soon as it has calved, it is rare, but it happens.

"A dog is a foreign animal to them. If you're confronted by cattle running onwards you, leave your dog.

On a lead

"You would be surprised at how fast a cow or a bullock can run. They can easily outrun a human. But not a dog, it can look after itself.

"If there is a herd coming down on you and you hold onto your dog you have not got a hope in hell."

Mr Huws added: "That is why I think there must be a change in the legislation.

"A dog should be kept on a lead at all times in the countryside. There has got to be a law change to that effect."

He said there was always a certain danger that any dog walker runs even if their pet remained on a lead, but allowing a dog to run free was asking for trouble.

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