Hastings Police investigating sheep attack in Fairlight

Police are investigating after two sheep were injured on land in Fairlight.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 10:07 am
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 10:08 am
Picture: Hastings Police

At 11.35am on Thursday (January 9), officers were called to land between Rosemary lane and Peter James Lane, Fairlight, after being told two ewes had been hurt.

Andrew Dunlop, the farmer at Fairlight, said: “One sheep had its leg bitten and wool from that leg was found lying in the field after having been ripped out, the second sheep had its ear badly bitten and it’s now blind in one eye.

“It’s extremely upsetting to see the flock attacked and distressed in this way, someone is either witnessing their dog chase and attack the sheep or is allowing their dog to escape their garden.

Picture: Hastings Police

“There are signs up at all entrances to this field. Thankfully, a kind and responsible dog walker saw the signs and contact details and alerted us of the injured sheep and we were able to act quickly. We are very grateful for those dog owners who respect the countryside and keep their dogs on a lead.

“We care for the sheep day in day out and some ewes are with us for years as part of the permanent flock. Whilst in our care, we do everything we can to keep them healthy and happy. These animals trust us and the relationship we build with them over time is astonishing. I have witnessed this on a number of occasions, for instance if a ewe is in difficulty whilst lambing or if she has lost her lamb in the ditch, she will approach me for help, such is the trust.”

A police spokesman said: “We are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen what happened or who may have other relevant information.”

Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act it is a criminal offence to let a dog worry sheep, and owners/handlers risk being fined. This includes physical attacks on ewes or lambs, chasing or other behaviour which may harm them, according to police.

PCSO Daryl Holter, Heritage and Wildlife Crime Officer said: “Sheep are valuable assets and any harm to them harms a farmer’s livelihood. It is every dog’s instinct to chase, even if usually obedient, but this can seriously damage livestock. A dog on the loose can be enough to panic sheep and in the case of pregnant ewes may even cause them to abort their lambs.

“Fences and field boundaries can be damaged or destroyed as frightened sheep try to escape, and lambs can die from starvation or hypothermia if separated from their mothers. They can also fall victim to ‘fly strike’, where they become infested with maggots, if blood attracts insects to their plight.

“Costly veterinary bills and disruption to farming routine were other aspects that needed to be considered.

He repeated advice that dogs should always be kept on a lead or securely contained when livestock are nearby. Failure to exercise proper control could mean their pets being shot dead by farmers as a last resort when protecting their flocks, he added.

Police are appealing for anyone with any information to get in touch by calling 101 quoting reference 0982 09/01/2020.

Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity, Crime stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.