Opinion: ‘Not suprised to see dog attack on sheep’

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 February 2016

‘Please keep pets on leads near livestock’

As both a dog owner and a sheep breeder, I was not surprised to see the report in the Sidmouth Herald of January 29 about a sheep being found badly injured after a dog attack.

I have lost count of the number of times people have told me that their dog would never chase or attack sheep. I would claim that any dog, given the right circumstances, would chase sheep. Our own dogs were brought up with our sheep and were trained not to go near them (reinforced by the ewes themselves, which would stand their ground and see off the dogs if the sheep felt at risk). However, when walking on Dartmoor, we would always keep our dogs on leads because, with strange sheep, I would not take the risk that temptation to chase might be stronger than the dogs’ training.

It is a sheep’s natural instinct to run from potential danger and - sad to say - a dog’s natural instinct to chase anything that runs from it.

At this time of year, when many ewes are in lamb, even to be chased, let alone attacked, can cause them to lose their lambs.

The devastating sight of dead sheep, savaged by marauding dogs whose owners have entirely lost control of them, appears only too often in the pages of Farmers’ Weekly.

The responsibility therefore rests entirely with the owner, so please keep your dog on a lead when walking near livestock.

J Stephens

Sidbury Mill, Sidbury

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