Man loading a shotgun© Neale Haynes/Rex/Shutterstock

A series of devastating sheep worrying incidents have prompted a warning that dogs will be shot if they attack livestock.

Wiltshire farmer Owen Singer, who farms at Penleigh Farm, near Westbury, lost four ewes to dog attacks over Christmas and the New Year.

One ewe had jaw torn off, another had its back legs and udder torn open and one drowned as it was driven into the river by a chasing dog. A fourth ewe was lost through stress.

Mr Singer vented his frustration in a Facebook post. “I have made the decision that the very lax attitude to dog walking on Penleigh Farm has come to an end.

“I am asking for people to stay on the footpaths with dogs on the lead at all times, regardless of whether there are any sheep in the field.”

He added: “If your dog is not on its lead it will be shot.”

The Facebook post has been “liked” 580 times and shared by 433 people.

See also: Your legal rights on shooting dogs on your land

On most occasions when livestock were attacked, it was because the dog had been allowed to get ahead of its owner, see the sheep and then go into the field before the owner had got there.

“Generally I’m told that ‘it’s not doing anything, it’s just playing’. The sheep don’t know that and the lamb foetuses detaching inside them getting ready to abort don’t know that either.”

There have been a spate of dog attacks on sheep in recent weeks in other parts of England, too.

In Cumbria, police are investigating an incident which occurred on sand dunes between Seascale and Drigg when a farmer witnessed a dog out of control and worrying his livestock.

A short time later the farmer located a sheep with injuries consistent with a dog attack.

PC Jonathan Mann said: “This is unfortunately not the first incident of this kind for this farmer, and it has devastating effects.

The latest incident happened on Tuesday 5 January. PC Mann said dog walkers should remember their responsibilities to ensure animals were kept on leads.

“It is an offence to allow your dog to worry livestock and would urge people to place their dogs on a lead when exercising in open access land where livestock is present.”

Anyone with information relating to this incident or others is requested to contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.