I don’t often get grumpy, controversial, or opinionated on here, but I feel very passionate about a particular issue… Sheep worrying. The prevalence of attacks by dogs on sheep in our countryside is heartbreaking and infuriating.
Please take a moment to read the following piece which I posted on my facebook page this evening:
Once again, a Sussex farm and its farmer and livestock have been subjected to an attack on a horrific and traumatic scale.
23-year old farmer Peter Sandgrave is the latest in a run of victims to see significant chunks of his livelihood destroyed before his eyes, and to suffer the trauma of dealing with dead and fatally injured animals.
This attack, and the many more like it, are all the more horrific for the fact they could be simply and easily prevented.
Mr Sandgrave has shared the results and distress of this latest dog attack that killed over 15 of his heavily pregnant sheep, publicly, but many other farmers have quietly and with huge frustration, cleared up and tried to carry on, carrying the burden of other people’s reckless and irresponsible behaviour.
It is time that people realised that any dog, ANY DOG, however trustworthy and loved, from a 5 month old schnauzer to a 15 year old arthritic labrador can cause huge damage if loose in a field with livestock, especially sheep.
Is it any wonder, when you see images such as these, that some farmers resent public access on their land? Can you really blame them for wanting to protect the safety and welfare of their animals, the mental health of their workers and families, and the finances of their often already precarious business, from the stupidity of people who could cause so much destruction? Of course, if your dog is found causing distress amongst their sheep, every farmer has the legal right to shoot YOUR DOG DEAD. But no one, not even them, wants that to happen.
Time and time again I have voiced this issue on Facebook and Twitter. It is a nationwide problem, but currently Sussex appears to be in a critical hotspot. These cases are not sporadic or involving one odd sensitive sheep, but frequent, increasing and involving animals in their 10’s. Your dog may look funny running after the sheep, and maybe he/she will come back to you without causing any visible physical injuries such as the ones photographed in the link below, but even after you have left the field, the stressed sheep may well abort their lambs. And it wont be the sheep’s fault, or the farmer’s fault, or even your dog’s fault…it will be yours.
We all want the right to use our public rights of way, to explore and enjoy the wonders the countryside has to offer, but if any one of us fails to respect that this wonderful resource is also an office, a home, and used and valued by others, why should we, how could we, expect to have that right?!
I thought long and hard about sharing this post. I almost did then didn’t a number of times, mainly out of sensitivity for the upset that the images in the article linked below, would cause some of my gentle and respectful friends and followers.
But if you share it, if it reaches just one person who stops and thinks and clips on the dog’s lead when near sheep…then I know it is worth it. So please, share, shout, spread this message:
It is very simple. Take the lead. Use it.
https://www.farminguk.com/News/15-sheep-killed-due-to-loose-dog-on-East-Sussex-farm_45761.html (WARNING: contains graphic images that may be upsetting)