Dogs caught worrying sheep could be shot

Lambs at West Lodge in Desborough

Lambs at West Lodge in Desborough

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Dog owners could risk having their animals shot if their pets are found worrying sheep during lambing season.

Sussex Police issued the warning following two recent attacks in Hooe where pregnant ewes were bitten by loose dogs.

Farmer Neil Smith, who keeps 65 sheep on the site near Church Lane in the village, said: “About a fortnight ago, someone came up the farm and admitted his dog had been chasing the sheep and had one on the ground.

“At least he had the decency to tell me.

“But less than a week later I went there to find another dog chasing them round.

“I asked the chap why the dog was not under control and he said they had opened the patio doors and off he went.”

Mr Smith was going to get his shotgun to stop the collie, but instead chose to stay with his sheep to protect them.

Police were called to the scene and a number of local dog owners were spoken to.

Although the sheep are recovering from their injuries, Mr Smith fears the trauma of the attacks could result in a number of stillborn lambs.

Mr Smith says too many people deviate from public footpaths, putting livestock at risk, adding: “The point is we have got footpaths and I mark them so it’s quite clear where the footpaths are, but people seem to think they can go wherever they feel like.”

PC Darren McCann said sheep worrying is an offence and dogs could be shot by farmers. He said: “Even docile dogs at home are capable of chasing sheep, which may result in a pregnant sheep aborting its lamb or having to be put to sleep as a result of sustained injuries.

“Livestock are a farmers’ livelihood and dead and injured sheep can cause significant financial loss and great upset. We are asking people to please keep your dogs under control at all times.”