Supermodel Claudia Schiffer has agreed to pay a farmer damages after her dog attacked a flock, leaving one sheep dead and two others seriously injured.
Ms Schiffer, 47, will pay farmer Alan Collett £8,000 for the losses at lambing his flock is likely to suffer next spring following the dog attack at his farm in Culworth, Northamptonshire.
She has compensated Mr Collett for his £300 vet bill and a further £150 for the dead sheep.
Mr Collett, 44, told Farmers Weekly he is living in fear that Ms Schiffer’s two-year old German Shepherd, Rollo, could attack his sheep again – unless the owners take steps to change its behaviour.
“My advice to pet owners is keep your dog on a lead and secure your property,” he said. “If your dog has attacked sheep, either retrain it, rehome it or put it down.
“Once a dog has got a taste for it, it will do it again, especially when it’s on a property where it knows it can go. A dog should have a proper owner and be properly trained.”
Man witnessed attack
Mr Collett was working 10 miles from his tenant farm when a neighbour called him on 14 November to report that a man in a van was witnessing his sheep being attacked by a loose dog.
Neighbours shot up to the field and they found the dog stood over a sheep, panting and covered in blood on its paws and mouth. They managed to call the dog towards them and Mr Collett’s wife, Jemima, put it in the back of her truck.
“My wife rang me up in tears. There was absolute devastation in the field,” said Mr Collett. “There were sheep laid about and the rest of the flock was exhausted. The sheep were in such a distressed state.”
Mr Collett arrived on the scene a few minutes later with his gun, but he could not shoot the dog as it was under control.
Then, two people connected to the owners turned up after locating the dog through an electronic tracker fitted on its collar.
The dog had escaped from Ms Schiffer’s £25m mansion about a mile away and it had run across a 320ha arable farm before it arrived at Mr Collett’s farm and started terrorising his in-lamb sheep.
More than one hour later, police and then a vet arrived to assess the damage caused to the flock.
“We rounded up all the sheep that could walk. But the most serious ones were still sat around the field,” said Mr Collett.
One sheep suffered serious injuries and had to be put down. A post-mortem examination revealed that teeth marks had gone through to its neck bones. A further two sheep were treated for bite injuries to their ears, neck and throat.
“The two mauled sheep are still in the flock. They looked miserable for a long while. They are eating again now,” said Mr Collett.
“They have lost a lot of body condition. One of them carries his head on one side as if it has sort of been partly paralysed down the neck.”
The NFU had started legal proceedings on behalf of Mr Collett, but Ms Schiffer has instead decided to settle the matter out of court.
“The biggest issue is the abortion of the lambs. The vet said it could be anywhere between 5-100%. On previous cases they have seen, it is roughly 25%.
“There were 200 sheep in the flock. They are all North Country Mule ewes, which we normally scan at just over 200%. That would be 400 lambs from that 200 [sheep] that are in that particular flock. We have probably lost 100 lambs.”
Dog control order
Ms Schiffer has agreed to a police voluntary control order and she must secure her home to stop her dogs escaping.
She and her husband, film director Matthew Vaughn, 47, are said to be “mortified” at being considered irresponsible dog owners.
But Mr Collett said he had not received an apology from Ms Schiffer and the whole incident had been very distressing for the whole family, especially his wife and two children.
“You look after that block of sheep, you do your best. You try to make a living just to support the family. But when something like this happens, it’s devastating,” he said.
“The sheep have been in a terribly distressed state. I put our collie in the back of a pick-up. Now if they hear the dog barking, they are on their toes and running, whereas normally you drive round and they don’t bother. It’s the stress for the sheep as well.”
A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said: “Police were called at about 11.30am on Wednesday, 14 November, to reports of a dog worrying sheep in a field between Culworth and Eydon in south Northamptonshire.
“The dog was caught by the farmer after causing injury to three sheep. It was agreed by all parties that a voluntary control order was the most appropriate resolution to the incident.”
The attack followed two similar incidents in which four sheep were found dead after suspected sheep worrying attacks.
Ms Schiffer has spoken about her love for German shepherds and Irish wolfhounds. Police previously warned her about keeping her dogs under control in 2006 and 2010.