A WARNING has gone out to dog walkers that their pets can be legally shot if they are off their leads and worrying sheep with lambs after livestock was attacked near Flushing.
Posting on Facebook, livestock owner Tracey Willcox said her sheep had been attacked in fields above Sailor’s Creek, near Flushing this week, and it wasn’t the first time.
“Our sheep in the fields by Sailors Creek have been attacked by dogs again these poor ewes are in lamb,” she said. “This is happening all the time we have signs on all the gates I even had to tell a woman off who let her dogs off in front of me while I was bringing our horse in.
“I can’t be how stupid these people are. It’s horrific to see these poor animals distressed and ripped up.”
However she said the person responsible had contacted her son to say he was mortified at what had happened and said that his dog had jumped the hedge and given his details
Last month she said their sheep in the fields above Sailors Creek where chased by a black dog. “The man with the dog did nothing to stop it,” she said. “We have signs telling people to keep dogs on leads I just hope our ewes don’t suffer and abort their lambs this has happened far to often please keep dogs on leads when walking through farmland and livestock.”
She said she had one woman with a springer and Jack Russell chase them for the second time and when she was confronted about what had happened gave her ‘a load of abuse’. She she can’t understand why people walk on footpaths then come to their gates with signs on them saying keep your dogs on a lead because there is livestock in the fields but they don’t do this.”
People on Facebook replying to the post said that sheep owners would be perfectly within their rights to shoot any dogs that were off their leads and worrying sheep, providing they have a gun licence.
Parasites found in some dog faces can result in abortions in and cattle and sheep and pet owners should always pick up after their dogs in fields.
Dog attacks on farm animals in the South West cost more than £185,000 last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic brought a surge in pet ownership and countryside visitors.
NFU Mutual, which conducted a survey of dog owners – finding that 64 per cent allowed their pets to roam free in the countryside, despite half of them admitting that their dog doesn’t always come back when called.
The research also revealed that 42 per cent of dog owners have been walking their pets more often in the countryside during the pandemic, and that 81 per cent of survey respondents have noticed more people exercising their pets in rural areas.
This is a concern for sheep farmers, as they enter the peak lambing period, when pregnant ewes and newborn lambs are vulnerable to attack.
Roz Hills, South West regional manager at NFU Mutual, said: “With more people walking in the countryside as Covid-19 restrictions continue and an increase in dog ownership, we have seen horrific attacks resulting in large numbers of sheep being killed and a trail of horrific injuries.
“These attacks cause unbearable suffering to farm animals as well as huge anxiety for farmers and their families as they deal with the aftermath.
“It’s a critical time in the farming calendar and there is widespread concern as we enter the peak lambing season, that there will be a surge in new visitors who are simply unaware of the countryside code or how their dog will behave around farm animals.”
In 2020, the UK-wide cost of dog attacks on livestock reached an estimated £1.3m – an overall increase of more than 10 per cent.