When you see animals wandering on the road

If you find cattle, horses, donkeys, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry and domesticated deer on a public road in Northern Ireland, report it to the police. The owners or keepers of these animals may be guilty of an offence.

Police contact number

If you see livestock on a public road in Northern Ireland, let the police know:

The role of the police

When the police get a report of an animal wandering on the road and its owner is unknown, the police may get their service provider to take possession of the animal whilst they try to find the owner.

Anyone who looks after the animal while the police try to find the owner, is entitled to be paid for the cost of keeping and feeding the animal until the owner is found.

The police will place a notice describing the animal and where it was found, outside the nearest police station for 14 days. This gives the owner 14 days to come forward and claim the animal.

Owner found within 14 days

If the owner is found within 14 days, he/ she is entitled to get the animal back by paying the police the costs for keeping and feeding the animal and for any expenses involved. If the owner refuses or fails to pay, the animal will be sold.

Owner not found within 14 days

If the owner hasn't been found within 14 days, the police can allow the animal to be sold at market or by auction. The police will give the public 48 hours’ notice of this sale by posting a notice outside the police station and also outside of the place of sale.

The notice will include details of the sale, a description of the animal and details of where it was found.

Following the sale, the police will pay the expenses of the sale (if any) out of the proceeds and will pay to the person who kept the animal an agreed amount for keeping and feeding it.

Owner found within six months of sale of livestock

If the owner is found within six months of the sale, the balance of the money from the sale will be paid to him/ her.

The responsibility of animal owners

It's an offence to turn loose onto a road any of the following animals:  horses, donkeys, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs or any domesticated deer.

Any owner or keeper of such an animal found wandering on a road, or lying at the side of the road, is guilty of an offence.

Download the guide

All of the above mentioned details can be found in the following guide which you can download:

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