WARNING: Article contains graphic images
Six sheep have died and eight more were injured following an horrific attack by a loose dogs in Somerset on Thursday (August 8).
One sheep was found dead with brutal injuries at a farm on Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, while a further five were later put down by a vet due to their severe injuries.
The RSPCA is reminding dog owners and walkers of the importance of keeping their pets on a lead around livestock.
RSPCA animal welfare officer Alison Sparkes said: “Sadly we think these injuries were caused by local dogs who were let off the lead and became out of control.
“We really need to stress the importance to dog walkers of keeping your pet under control or on a lead in the countryside to avoid these devastating attacks.
“While the vast majority of people take care as a matter of course, sadly accidents can happen and even the most docile and obedient dogs can get distracted and excited by grazing animals.”
The RSPCA reminded dog owners that it is lawful for farmers to shoot a dog to protect livestock. Owners could also face a police prosecution if their dog is caught worrying livestock.
Keep dogs on leads
Sgt Andy Murphy, from Avon and Somerset Police, added: “We know dog owners love to stroll in the countryside with their pets but we cannot stress enough how important it is to be aware of your surroundings.
“Even if you think your dog is placid and friendly, when faced with a field full of livestock they can be unpredictable. It’s simply not worth taking the risk – keep your dog on a lead and away from livestock.
“If your dog is found to be responsible for sheep worrying then as its owner, you could find yourself with a large vet’s bill, prosecution and the strong possibility of your dog being destroyed as a result.
“We don’t want that to happen, we don’t want anyone to lose a much-loved family pet, so please keep them on the lead.”
Responsible behaviour in the countryside – advice for dog owners
- Always check for livestock in fields when walking your dog.
- Always shut gates behind you.
- When in fields with livestock, it is vital that your dog is kept on a lead and under control at all times.
- The only time you should release your dog is in the event of being chased by cattle. By restraining the dog in these circumstance you are putting yourself at risk of being injured by the cattle.
- If your dog chases, scares or attacks sheep, report it to the farmer even if there is no apparent injury, as the stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and in-lamb ewes to miscarry.
- If you live near livestock and own a dog make sure your property and garden are secure so your pets cannot escape.