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'Gruesome' East Lancs sheep attacks condemned by farmers
THREE ‘gruesome’ dog attacks on sheep in the past 10 days have been condemned by farmers and vets.
A sheep was killed and two more seriously injured in overnight incidents at one farm on the outskirts of Colne.
Ellie Phipps, a farm hand at Broach Flat Farm, begged dog walkers to keep their pets on leads after the most recent fatality.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) condemned the attacks and echoed Miss Phipps’ calls for ramblers and dog walkers to do more to protect livestock as they said incidents of sheep worrying had risen by six per cent.
The Lancashire Telegraph has seen pictures of the injured ewes, but they were too disturbing to print.
Miss Phipps, who has worked at the Foulridge farm for six years, said the sheep’s owners were ‘devastated’ by the viciousness of the attacks.
She said: “We had a phone call from someone from a house nearby to say they had just walked their dog through the field and saw a dead sheep. It had clearly been attacked by dogs.
“There were a few others with bites and wounds. A few days later, we had another phone call from Stanley House Veterinary Group to say more sheep had been spotted with blood around their necks.
“Thankfully, they seem to be recovering. I’ve started taking photos as proof because it’s quite a common occurrence now.”
The farm, which has more than 200 sheep, has two footpaths running through it which emerge near Park High School, making it popular with dog walkers.
Miss Phipps, a 21-year-old third year veterinary science student at the University of Liverpool, said the incidents were not reported to the police as ‘there is no point’.
She said: “I think it’s just a case of raising awareness out there among dog owners. This is almost a day-to-day thing for us now. We are becoming immune to it.
“I wouldn’t even take my border collie off her lead in the field with them, because it’s almost natural behaviour for dogs to chase something.”
Carl Hudspith, spokesman for the North West branch of the NFU, said sheep worrying was a problem on two levels.
He said: “Firstly, from an animal welfare point of view, it’s massively worrying. People letting their dogs off leads are harming not only sheep and cattle, but also the dogs and even themselves.
“Farmers have a legal right to shoot dogs which are attacking their animals, although obviously we don’t want to see that happening.
“Secondly, a farmer’s stock is his livelihood and there will be financial implications in having a sheep killed.”
Terry Bork, a farmer from Bacup, lost his prize sheep, Dolly, in April in a similar attack.
He said: “The media coverage scared them off from here I think but unfortunately it seems they have cropped up elsewhere.
“I feel really sorry for these farmers. It sounds similar to what happened here and it’s really gruesome.”
A spokeswoman for Stanley House Veterinary Group said: “Please keep your dog on a lead when crossing farm land and please don’t let them wander off on their own or escape from your garden “If you do see a dog attacking sheep and don’t know who the sheep belong to, ring the police.”
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