A farmer has appealed to people to keep their dogs on leads after a pregnant ewe had to be put down following a suspected dog attack.

Jonathan Shorrock, whose family have farmed for generations in Lancashire, said it is not the first time he has lost sheep to dog attacks.

According to the farmer he loses between 10 to 20 sheep every year in this manner.

But this was one of the few times that a member of the public, who saw the badly injured ewe on moorland close to Singing Ringing Tree at Crown Point reported the circumstances to the RSPCA.

Shorrock said in the vast majority of cases people just walk away and leave the sheep injured.

“I think some people see them grazing in the field and believe their dog should be able to go free too, while others just don’t believe their dog will ever chase livestock.

“Dogs will very easily spook sheep and run off, causing the dog to give chase. A great deal of time and expertise is involved in breeding these sheep, but it’s a problem myself and other farmers have to face year in, year out,” he said.

The farmer stressed that he has “nothing against people walking their dogs”.

But he added: “I just want them to be responsible and put them on a lead when they are near sheep.

“It will also help to protect ground-nesting birds, such as curlews, who are also on the moorland at this time of year.”

Pregnant ewe

According to the RSPCA when it was alerted to the condition of the pregnant ewe by a member of the public it searched the area and found the ewe with a severely injured front right leg and what appeared to be teeth wounds on her right ear. 

The charity contacted a vet who attended the ewe and agreed that its injuries appeared to be consistent with a dog attack.

The RSPCA said its injuries were unfortunately deemed to be so severe that “she needed to be put to sleep to prevent further suffering” – with the farmer’s consent.

Simon Small, RSPCA Chief Inspector for Lancashire, said the situation was “devastating” for the farmer, who not only lost his ewe but also the lamb she was carrying.

“This is a problem faced by the farming community all too often and it’s totally avoidable if only owners kept their dogs on leads around livestock.

“The incident happened on a beautiful day and the area would have been busy with walkers and ramblers.

“Most people will have been responsible and done the right thing, but the message is still not getting through to some owners who continue to let their animals run free,” the RSPCA chief inspector said.


The RSPCA has reminded dog owners that it is lawful for farmers to shoot a dog to protect livestock and owners can also face a police prosecution if their dog is caught worrying livestock.

Chief Inspector Small added: “Panicked sheep can be killed or badly injured by loose dogs and pregnant ewes can miscarry, so we really cannot stress how important it is to keep your pet under control and on a lead when near livestock.

“Even if you think your dog is placid and friendly, when faced with a field full of animals they can be unpredictable. It’s simply not worth taking the risk, so please ensure you act responsibly.”