A shepherd is at her wits’ end after one of her ewes was attacked by a dog, according to Suffolk Police’s rural, wildlife and heritage policing unit.

The unit took to Twitter to share the woman’s story, saying that she was fed up with “irresponsible dog owners”.

“Please do the right thing and keep your dog on a lead around livestock,” the force said.

“No apologies for the pic. This lovely ewe is still suffering, weeks after an avoidable attack.”

The post, which has 7,000 views, has farming unions as well as sheep and other livestock-related associations tagged in it to draw attention to the issue.

The organisations tagged in the post include:

  • British Texel Sheep;
  • National Sheep Association;
  • National Farmers’ Union (NFU) East Anglia;
  • Country Land and Business Association (CLA) East;
  • The Kennel Club;
  • The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

Livestock worrying

Suffolk Police’s rural, wildlife and heritage policing unit said it is at this time of year, when “lambs are out in fields, enjoying the sunshine”, that reports of dog attacks increase.

Image: Suffolk Police rural, wildlife and heritage policing unit

“Unfortunately, we are still getting reports of irresponsible dog walkers, allowing their dogs to chase, unsettle and sadly in some cases maul livestock,” it said.

“The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is very clear and, even a dog off its lead in a field of sheep, this constitutes an offence, regardless of whether it is under control or not.

“Please do not fall foul of this legislation and keep dogs on leads at all times when livestock are around. It really is not difficult and is the duty of anyone in charge of a dog, whilst out in public.”

Moving away from sheep to other livestock, Sgt. Brian Calver highlighted the dangers of the increase in the use of footpaths and walks through the middle of pastures in which cattle are grazing during the summer months.

“It’s the time of year in the countryside where cattle are turned out onto the pastures for the summer. Many of these fields have footpaths going through them.

“It’s against the law to have a dairy bull in a field with a footpath but beef breeds are allowed, with cows. 

“The greatest risk is from cows with calves. People must understand that their loving pooch is a natural predator in the eyes of livestock.”

Calver said that dog owners, and others enjoying what the countryside has to offer, must be aware that a cow’s natural instinct is to protect its young.

“All in all, common sense must prevail, with mutual consideration shown for those using the countryside for leisure and those that are trying to earn a living,” he said.