Dog owners warned farmers have right to shoot dogs who threaten livestock after Fordham farm sheep attack

A golden retriever dog running on a field. Picture: Shutterstock In Green.

A golden retriever dog running on a field. Picture: Shutterstock In Green. - Credit: Shutterstock / In Green

Dog owners are being warned farmers have the right to shoot a dog if it threatens the safety of livestock.

Under section nine of the Animals Act, when the safety of livestock is threatened, the farmer or landowner can shoot the dog, provided the incident is reported to police within 48 hours.

The warning comes days after a dog killed two sheep and injured three others during an attack at a Fordham farm.

Sheep farmer John Maxwell fears the attack, which took place on Saturday afternoon, could lead to a vet bill of thousands of pounds.

Dog owners need to be aware of the damage that their pets can do when not controlled, Mr Maxwell said.

He said: “This is the first time this has happened to me in my 25 years here, and I can say it’s one of the most unpleasant things a sheep farmer will have to deal with. The dog has made an awful mess of them.

“When you are talking about pedigree sheep the vet bill could be in the thousands.

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“The incident was bad enough but it could have been a lot worse. I’d like to make dog owners aware that their dogs can do a lot of damage. Most owners are responsible but mishaps do happen.”

John Cousins, director of pet medication retailer VioVet, echoed the farmer’s plea.

He said: “Sheep are flight animals, and will flee at full speed when around an unpredictable dog.

“Dogs running amuck amongst a flock of sheep can cause serious harm to expectant ewes, who may miscarry. It also affects the flock’s future lambing ability, damaging not just the animals but also the farmer’s livelihood.

“Even some of the best trained dogs can retain a predatory instinct when presented with sheep in pasture, and our advice is simple: keep them on a lead at all times.

“No-one wants their dog to be shot at or injured, just as no farmer wants to euthanise a pregnant ewe or young lamb because of an avoidable attack.

“Farmers have often dedicated years into a breeding flock so it is heart-breaking when their hard work decimated within minutes by an out-of-control dog.”

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