The parents of a woman trampled by a cow protecting a young calf are hoping for a change in legislation to prevent such a thing happening to any other family.

Emma Smith remains in the critical care ward of hospital this week with severe chest injuries, after the majority of her ribs were crushed by the full weight of the cow.

She had been walking her dog along a familiar route through a field with a public right of way in the St Martin area, which was filled with cows and young calves.

Mrs Smith had crossed half of the field with no problems when one suddenly started running at her.

When her precautions did not appear to be working Mrs Smith began to run away but unfortunately tripped. It is understood the cow then “tossed” her before rolling on top of her.

This week her mother Sue said: “We feel the legislation needs looking at with regards to cows and young calves in fields where there is a public right of way.”

She said her daughter “did everything she could”, adhering to Natural England’s Countryside Code by walking the dog on a lead before letting it go when the cow threatened and putting her arms out wide, but it wasn’t working.

“It’s not as if she was in a strange area or somewhere different where she didn’t know the farm or the walk,” she added.

Mrs Moody said that the family wanted to pay tribute to the work of the 771 squadron search and rescue crew members from RNAS Culdrose, who airlifted Emma to Truro’s Royal Cornwall Hospital.

Although the family has already thanked the crew in person, Mrs Moody said that having the larger Sea King helicopter meant that she was able to fly to hospital alongside her daughter, together with an extra paramedic, which made a big difference.

“It’s worth stating how helpful it was having the Sea King helicopter so close to St Martin. We are eternally grateful for the speed she was taken to hospital and treated – it was second to none,” she added.

The issue was raised at last Thursday’s meeting of St Keverne Parish Council by Cornwall Councillor Walter Sanger.

Mr Sanger stressed that the farmer had “adhered to all the regulations” and warned: “People, although they can be legally on the public footpath, have to be aware and be cautious where there are cattle and especially cattle with calves.”

This was particularly true when a person had a dog with them. “If in doubt, chicken out,” he added.

Councillor Bill Frisken said cattle did not like dogs but had found they could rid of them by driving the owners away.

Councillor Derek Kevern, a farmer all his life, agreed: “It is best to leave your dog off the lead rather than on the lead, because they’ll go for you too – and the dog will find you.”

The Countryside Code states:

  • When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you: keep your dog on a lead, or keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command, ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access
  • Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs – for example: Dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, byelaws or control orders limiting where they can go; the access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as ‘open access’ land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between March 1 and July 31, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.
  • It’s always good practice (and a legal requirement on ‘open access’ land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner.
  • However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.