dog with livestock

The RSPCA is reminding dog owners and walkers of the importance of keeping their pets under control to avoid attacks on livestock, after three sheep were injured and two passed away following a dog attack in a farmer’s field in the Runcorn area this month.

The surviving sheep was spotted by a member of the public, unable to stand and with “an open wound on its back which was covered in dried blood”. Two other were found dead. So far this year, the same farmer lost six sheep from dog attacks and sheep worrying.

RSPCA inspector, Caren Goodman-James, who attended on Tuesday 4 August, is urging dog walkers to keep their dogs on a lead around livestock.

These attacks can have a devastating effect on the livestock, resulting in severe injury and death – and the farmers are by law allowed to shoot dogs in order to protect their livestock. Owners could also be prosecuted by police.

Caren said, “It is heartbreaking to hear that so many sheep have died as a result of dog attacks, which could have easily been prevented had the owners kept their dog on a lead and not let them run loose near livestock.

“Whilst 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.  

“You may think that if your dog momentarily chases a flock of sheep and comes back relatively quickly that there would be no harm done, but even if there are no visible injuries, actually it could be causing the animals a lot of worry and anxiety, which can be really harmful to their health. Ewes have been known to abort unborn lambs whilst under stress which is particularly tragic.”

There is a very simple way to stop any of this happening though – keep your dog on a lead around livestock. If anyone sees a dog attacking a flock of sheep they are urged to call the police immediately. If you are worried about your dog’s behaviour visit the RSPCA’s website to find a suitable behaviour expert.

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