A sign warning dog owners on a path© Global Warming Images/REX/Shutterstock

A livestock farmer has decided to give up sheep farming after a sickening dog attack on his flock, say police.

An unaccompanied dog attacked and killed a pregnant ewe and her unborn lamb and forced one sheep into a canal.

Boaters tried to rescue the sheep, but it died after being plucked from the canal.

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The incident, in a field in the village of Seend, near Melksham, Wiltshire, left a third sheep in serious shock and distress.

Wiltshire Police has appealed for help to track down the owners of the large Border collie-type dog, which due to its size could have been a German shepherd-cross.

The owners did not appear to be with the dog when it carried out the attack.

PCSO Janet Gould said: “The attack has left the sheep farmer extremely distressed and he has decided to stop farming sheep after the ordeal.

 “Livestock worrying is a criminal offence and can be very distressing for the farmers who have to deal with the financial and emotional aftermath of a dog attack.

“Someone from the area will recognise the description of the dog involved. It might be that your dog or someone’s you know got out on that Monday evening and came back showing signs of being involved in an attack.”

Livestock worrying report

A recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare estimated about 15,000 sheep alone were killed by dogs in 2016, putting the cost to the farming sector at around £1.3m

A National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) project analysed livestock worrying in five police forces – North Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall, Sussex, North Wales and Hertfordshire – between September 2013 and September 2017.

Across the five police forces, there were more than 3,500 deaths or serious injuries to stock over this period. The estimated cost of this was £250,000 – with dog owners not present at the time attack in the majority of incidents.

Andrew Gillett, legal adviser at the Country, Land and Business Association (CLA), said: “Dog attacks on livestock have a major financial and emotional impact on farmers.

“We fully support any extra measures needed to reduce incidences of livestock worrying and to help police investigate the crime.

“Alongside this, a new approach is needed to allow farmers to temporarily divert public rights of way where livestock is present. This would provide flexibility for farmers, enhance safety for users and improve animal welfare.”