Dog owners warned to keep pets under control after sheep worrying incidents
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*Warning - graphic image included below*
Dog owners are being reminded to keep their pets under control following two incidents of sheep worrying in the Forest of Dean.
In one incident in the Lower Wye Valley area of St Briavels last Wednesday (3 November) a dog was seen to be chasing sheep on farmland.
The dog, a black and white sheepdog-type breed, was not under control and the owner was not seen during the incident between 3.30pm and 4pm.
It attacked a number of the sheep and chased them - at least one sheep has died as a result.
In a separate incident in the area of Forest Vale Road in Cinderford last month a dog chased a small flock of ewes that were in an enclosure.
The enclosure has signs at access points, warning dog owners to keep their dogs on a lead due to livestock.
Two ewes were mauled and suffered significant bite wounds which resulted in them needing to be euthanised. Several other ewes suffered injuries from what is believed to have been a large dog.
Rural and Wildlife Crime Officer PC Cath McDay said: "Both of these incidents have happened on land near to large housing estates.
"The owners may have seen the space and felt it was an ideal place to let their dog off for a run, without realising there were sheep in there.
"This is irresponsible and you must ensure a field or area has no livestock in it before letting your dog off lead. It is the law to keep your dog under control and the responsibility falls with the owner.
"Anyone who is found to be worrying livestock can not only be prosecuted by the police, they can be fined and also have orders placed on their dog.
"This crime has a devastating impact on both the livestock and their owners."
Incident 206 of 14 October relates to Cinderford and incident 294 of 3 November relates to Lower Wye Valley.
Allowing a dog to worry or attack livestock is a criminal offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.
Sheep represent a farmer’s income and are often worth a substantial sum. If they are attacked or killed, the loss that farmers face can leave them substantially out of pocket.
Sheep worrying can include dogs attacking animals physically, running after them or chasing the sheep around, especially when they are carrying lambs or there are young lambs within the flock. Dog faeces left on grazing land may also carry disease that can kill sheep and affect unborn lambs.
Ultimately a landowner by law, and as a last resort for protecting their livestock, is able to shoot a dog which they believe is worrying sheep. However, nobody wants to see this outcome.
When walking dogs in rural areas, dog owners are advised about the following:
Always ensure your dog is under control in an area where there are livestock or wild animals.
Be particularly vigilant during lambing season and always keep dogs on a lead during this time.
If your dog is not good with other animals or people, avoid letting them off their lead when others are around.
Don't allow people who may not be confident in doing so or have full control over the animal to walk your dog.
Remember where there may be no livestock in a field one day, the same location could be full of animals the next.
Ultimately a landowner by law, and as a last resort for protecting their livestock, is able to shoot a dog which they believe is worrying sheep. Police must be notified within 48 hours if this course of action is taken.