A distraught farmer from Clitheroe is urging dog owners to keep their pets on a lead around livestock after his sheep was sadly mauled and killed by a dog.

Richard Middleton, of Little Mitton Hall Farm, shared the devastating news of his sheep’s death.

Last week, somebody’s dog was let off its lead on the field at the back of the sewage works down by the River Calder at Whalley.

Richard was informed that the dog was chasing the sheep and one of them was sadly left with an ear missing and multiple bite marks on the legs, tail, head, and nose.

Lancashire Telegraph: Richard's sheep on Little Mitton FarmRichard's sheep on Little Mitton Farm

The field the dog and his or her owner was in is a private one separated off the public footpath with a locked gate, so they should not have been on that land.

In a post on Facebook, Richard wrote: “This post is just to say thank you to that person for letting their dog chase them round the field, hope your proud of yourself, sadly this is the not the first time and won’t be the last. People need to grow up.”

Speaking on the likelihood of the tragic incident, Richard said: “This is not the first time this has happened before.”

Richard explained that he farms around 600 acres of land and “around 90 per cent of incidents of dogs chasing sheep occur on the 50 acres that neighbours the houses at Whalley.”

“Other issues we have down there are people not staying on the footpaths and letting their dogs run riot in the fields and dog fouling.”

Research found that an increase in dog ownership during the pandemic saw the cost of dog attacks on farm animals rise by ten per cent in 2020.

Richard added: “If things don’t improve, we will have to explore alternative uses for the land.”

Angry locals shared their sympathies with Richard calling the dog owner ‘selfish’ for not considering the impact an incident like this can have on farmers.

One person wrote: “Makes me mad. How selfish. To hell with the anguish it’s caused. Farmers struggle enough as it is. I for one am always grateful for what you do.”

This tragedy sparked discussion over the shooting of dogs, with people claiming that if a farmer must resort to shooting a dog, then the pet owner is to blame.

The Animals Act 1971 states that a farmer can shoot a dog with the defence that they were protecting their livestock if they can prove that the dog was likely to cause harm to the farmer’s animals.

However, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 states it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to dogs, so proper judgement is vital.

One person wrote: "People need educating. It’s not the dogs fault as it’s nature to chase but the dog will end up losing its life through ignorant owners."