A farm manager in Wiltshire has said each dog attack has been more “catastrophic” than the one before, bringing financial burdens and implications.

However, Neil Ridgeway of Stowell Farms said the biggest issue is the distress of “seeing animals you tend and treat as part of the family being torn to shreds by an animal that is just out of control”.

Stowell Farms in Marlborough, Wiltshire, is on 3,500ac with 800 adult milking cows, 700 young dairy animals and 2,200 breeding ewes, which Ridgway said are all “heavily in lamb”.

Wiltshire Police’s rural crime team said Ridgway’s stories from Stowell Farms provide the perspective of a farmer on attacks on his sheep.

“Livestock worrying is a crime. There is an emotional cost as well as a financial cost to the farmer and legal consequences for the dog owner,” the team said.

Dog attacks

“Over the last four years, we’ve had three dog attacks on the estate,” Ridgway said.

Ridgway said the biggest issue caused by a dog attack is the stress that comes with the “pure catastrophic events” of seeing animals injured and killed by dogs, with their owners not taking responsibility.

“It’s different for us compared to other farmers, as we know two out of the three dog attacks who the owner was, who the dogs were,” he said.

“In one instance we shot one dog, which was distressing within itself for us because we don’t want to be shooting other people’s animals. But people have got to accept responsibility.”

Going forward, Ridgway is calling for fines and consequences “that are actually meaningful to teach people a lesson”.

“Because the last two dog attacks have been by the same owner, twice involving the same dog, which got away the last time,” he said.

“I’d love to see owners being responsible around livestock. All of our footpaths are signposted with ‘keep your dogs on leads or face the consequences’.

“We have no problem with 99% of dog owners. We love people to explore and see the wonderful things about our farming estate. but at the same time we really appreciate responsible dog owners who keep their leads on.”