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Runaway dog leaves 87 sheep on Cumbrian farm dead

A farmer has revealed the devastation caused by dogs on the loose after 87 of his ewes and lambs died from sheep-worrying.

Dead sheep photo
Graham Hogg with dead sheep and lambs

Graham Hogg said the gruesome aftermath of the incidents was “on a par with foot and mouth” in terms of the impact on him and his farm.

He joined police and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in calling for dog owners to ensure their pets are under control or cannot escape as the lambing season reaches its peak ahead of a busy weekend for walking in the countryside.

Mr Hogg, of Windcale Farm West, Egremont, said two ewes and 18 lambs were lost after a dog was seen worrying the flock on Friday, March 15.

Then last Thursday, 64 lambs and three ewes were left dead in another incident on his farm. Some were trampled as the flock panicked.

Mr Hogg said the same dog was involved in both attacks, escaping from its kennel on the second occasion. The police are involved.

He told the News & Star: “Words can’t describe how I feel. It’s on a par with foot and mouth, seeing these animals that should be alive right now.

“This in real terms is as much as 25 per cent of my yearly income going up in smoke. Some of the lambs are pedigree Texel, they’re worth a lot of money. But money doesn’t come into it.

“It’s total devastation.”

In different incidents involving other dogs, two ewes were attacked at St Bees and a dog was also seen chasing sheep at a field near Clints Brow, Egremont, last week.

The worrying of livestock by dogs is a year-round concern, but it is at this time during the birthing season that ewes and cows are especially vulnerable as a frightened animal might abort or abandon its young.

Mr Hogg, who has farmed at Windscale Farm West for more than 20 years, issued a plea to dog owners, saying: “Please be very aware and vigilant and not only at this lambing time but whenever you have dogs out.

“Always make sure you know where they are.”

A spokesman for the NFU said: “Ninety-nine per cent of people do keep their dogs on a lead. If people do go into the countryside they should be aware it is a working environment and dogs should be kept on a lead.

“It’s not just the fact dogs can go over and kill sheep, if they disrupt them and separate mothers from lambs it can cause problems.”

Police said they had received reports about sheep being worried in this area and advised dog owners to ensure their pets are under control when near to livestock, especially at this time of year when lambs are in the area.

A spokeswoman added: “Anyone who lives near to a farm is advised to ensure their dogs are under control and kept in an area from which they cannot escape.”

Have your say

really think a lot of you out there condemming dogs when its not just the dogs fault i have two dogs and i do not have mine on a lead at all times as mine are working dogs but if i am away from work with my dogs i clean up after them so you all need a reality check i feel for the farmer and do agree the person who owned the dog should have to pay for his dogs actions but not ALL DOGS ARE LIKE THAT !!!!!! and as for them being antisociable animals that only comes from the people who dont like them so grow up really annoys me when people state things they know nothing about

Posted by angela on 5 April 2013 at 16:15

In response to n walker, the law states dogs must be kept on leads on public roads. Which mine always are. I was referring to them being in open spaces. My point being I know he is safe to have off the lead and do walk him through areas with sheep as I know he is easily controlled and would return to my side instantly if requested.(and he's getting very old now) If I thought he wasn't then they would both be on leads.

It is the dog owners that should be at question here. It would be interesting to see if this is an irresponsible owner; a dog out on its own or one that suddenly went out of control. As a dog owner I agree that people should be punished for the acts of their dogs. It may encourage those less responsible to take the relevant caution, however, there are always those that do not worry themselves about the consequences regardless.

My thoughts go to the farmer who has lost a chunk of his livelihood. I have spent my share of nights nursing lambs after their mothers have died and would have been gutted at the loss of the animals, never mind the costs.

Posted by Zo on 5 April 2013 at 01:52

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