POLICE rescued a number of sheep that were giving birth to lambs in “atrocious” conditions after concerns were raised for the animals’ welfare writes Alex Cutler.

Dorset Police’s dedicated Rural Crime Team supported officers from Dorset Council Trading Standards’ animal health department in a joint operation to seize 15 ewes and two newborn lambs on land in west Dorset.

Rural crime co-ordinator PC Claire Dinsdale said that the animals were rescued from “a very boggy field” due to concerns for their welfare. The location of the site is not being revealed due to it being an ongoing investigation.

PC Dinsdale reported the operation on a police video, where she is seen holding two of the lambs.

PC Dinsdale said: “We were with animal health trading standards this morning (Thursday) on a seizure of some sheep and some lambs. Some sheep [were] giving birth to lambs in atrocious conditions.

“All safely recovered from the field and we got to do our sheepdog antics, so not just policing.”

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Police, Trading Standards and council farm inspectors from Animal Health have powers under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. These powers allow officers to take animals in to possession that are suffering or if left, deemed likely to suffer.

With many areas of the county experiencing wet and windy weather, resulting in flooding, a spokesman for the Rural Crime Team explained that it was not just the mud that gave the officers cause for concern regarding the condition the sheep and lambs were left in. However they could not give further details due to this being a ‘live investigation’.

They added that, while the two lambs featured in the video with PC Dinsdale appeared to be healthy, this was not the case for all of the flock. They confirmed that the animals would be taken to a vet to be checked over.

The Dorset Police Rural Crime Team consists of a dedicated rural crime co-ordinator, a rural engagement officer and a rural crime analyst. It also includes nominated officers who are points of contact for each of Dorset’s five rural sections: Bridport, Dorchester and Sherborne, Purbeck, East Dorset and North Dorset.

Nearly half of Dorset’s population live in rural areas: the Rural Crime Team works closely with partners across Dorset to ensure they are engaged with and protected. The team was launched in August 2016.