Appeal for dogs to be kept on leads in West Sussex countryside is renewed

An appeal from the NFU for dog-walkers to keep their pets on leads has been renewed, now that fields are full of lambs.

West Sussex NFU chairman Caroline Harriott. a beef and sheep farmer from Lyminster, said: “As a general rule, we’re appealing to dog walkers to put pets on a lead in the countryside as farm animals may be around the corner. All dogs have a chase instinct and owners should avoid letting their dog run freely as farmers are legally allowed to shoot any dog that is chasing or harming livestock. Ewes and lambs are particularly vulnerable at this time of year and can suffer terrible injuries or even die of shock when chased or attacked by dogs.

Farmer Caroline Harriott and supporters at the awareness event at Cissbury Ring

Farmer Caroline Harriott and supporters at the awareness event at Cissbury Ring

“Only last weekend, another West Sussex farmer suffered a third dog attack on his sheep within two months.

“He lost a ewe, resulting in two orphan lambs, and a further lamb was fatally injured on land near Steyning.”

The NFU says dog attacks cost the farming industry an estimated £1.6million per year but many losses are uninsured and unaccounted for in the figure.

NFU South East’s video reminds dog owners that it is an offence to let a dog chase or attack farm animals. If a dog worries livestock, the dog owner or the person responsible for the animal at the time is guilty of an offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 and may be sued for compensation by the farmer.

NFU South East has produced a short video, featuring farmer Isobel Bowden who runs 2,000 sheep and who highlights the devastating impacts of almost weekly dog attacks on her flocks.

• Read more on this subject: In January, Caroline was horrified after three of her 55-strong flock suffered deep puncture wounds consistent with bites to their heads and necks. One also suffered leg injuries while another’s throat had been ripped open.

Just days later, another attack left a pregnant ewe dead and two others with bites to their necks.

And there was another attack in March – just a week after a farmer-led event highlighting the problems of sheep worrying had been held at Cissbury Ring.