The RSPCA is warning that out-of-control dogs could be shot by farmers after 14 sheep were wounded during an incident in Somerset, writes Phil Hill.

One sheep was killed in what is believe to have been an attack by local dogs, while five others were so severely injured they had to be put down and eight more were wounded.

The farmer was greeted by a scene of carnage on the morning of Thursday, August 8 at the farm on Glastonbury Tor.

RSPCA animal welfare officer Alison Sparkes said: "Sadly we think these injuries were caused by local dogs who were let off the lead and became out of control.

"We really need to stress the importance to dog walkers of keeping your pet under control or on a lead in the countryside to avoid these devastating attacks.

"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.

"Dog owners should remember it is lawful for farmers to shoot a dog to protect livestock, which would be distressing for everyone involved and owners could face a police prosecution if their dog is caught worrying livestock."

Sgt Andy Murphy, from Avon and Somerset Police, said: "We know dog owners love to stroll in the countryside with their pets, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to be aware of your surroundings.

"Even if you think your dog is placid and friendly, when faced with a field full of livestock they can be unpredictable. It’s simply not worth taking the risk – keep your dog on a lead and away from livestock.

"If your dog is found to be responsible for sheep worrying then, as its owner, you could find yourself with a large vet’s bill, prosecution and the strong possibility of your dog being destroyed as a result.

"We don't want that to happen, we don't want anyone to lose a much loved family pet, so please keep them on the lead."

The RSPCA urges people to consider their actions as a responsible dog owner when out and about enjoying the countryside:

  • always check for livestock in fields when walking your dog/s.
  • always make sure you shut gates behind you.
  • when in fields with livestock, it is vital that your dog/s are kept on a lead and under control at all times. The only time you should release your dog is in the event of being chased by cattle. By restraining the dog in this circumstance you are putting yourself at risk of being injured by the cattle.
  • if your dog chases, scares or attacks sheep, report it to the farmer even if there is no apparent injury as the stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs.
  • if you live near livestock and own a dog/s make sure that your property and garden are secure so your pets cannot escape.

This article is from the

Somerset County Gazette