Cattle Attacks On People Often Involve Dogs, Study Reveals

First Posted: Feb 01, 2016 03:27 PM EST

Researchers found that two-thirds of cattle attacks on people often involve dogs, according to a study at the University of Liverpool. The researchers urged dog owners to be more alert with their pets when walking close to cows in countryside areas.

"We found that walking with dogs among cows, particularly with calves present, was a common factor for an attack," Dr. Carri Westgarth, a dog behavior expert and coauthor of the study, said in a news release.

The researchers claimed that cattle causing deaths and injuries have has been around for ages, however, no detailed investigation has been conducted on why these events occur, until now. The researchers' study examined examines the risk factors that are involved in public and cattle interactions. There has been a total 54 reported cattle attacks U.K. media between 1993 and 2013, where one in four were fatal and two-thirds involved dogs.

"One theory for this is that the cows may feel particularly threatened by dogs, especially if they have young to protect. People then try to protect their dogs, which can lead to a tragic incident occurring," Westgarth said.

The researchers study sheds light on cattle-related injuries and deaths, which are significant and is also a risk to members of the public. There is an average of 300,000 farms and 9.7 million cattle in the U.K., so it is likely for people to come into contact with cattle while walking.

"Considering our findings, the best advice, if cattle approach, would be to let your dog off the lead, as then it can escape, and the cows are also likely to remove their focus from you," Westgarth said.

The findings of this study were published in Injury Prevention.

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