Dogs and sheep worrying – the endless battle

When, oh when are dog owners going to learn? How many pet dogs are being shot, with sheep and lambs dying or being savagely attacked because careless owners allow them to run loose around livestock?

Today I received an email from a friend who is now lambing and found two dogs tearing around the sheep this morning. The usual argument with the owner erupted, the ignorant “they wouldn’t hurt a fly” comment and the response of “I can legally shoot them you know”, to the horror of the owner. Why was the owner surprised by this news? Surely any responsible dog owner should know the consequence of allowing their dog to roam freely among livestock.

Dog owners are always so angry when they hear it is legal to shoot their dog if they worry sheep and yet no thought seems to be given to the aborted lambs or the savaged/dead sheep, that can often be the result of sheep worrying. What really makes my blood boil is to see the dog owner ranting and raving while waving a dog lead in the air. The solution is literally in their own hand.

One problem is that the dog owners often see their dog just running around the sheep and they are back at home sipping tea by the time the damage is done and the abortions begin. Others stroll along not even aware that their family pet is mauling and killing a sheep at the other side of the field.

The NFU supply signs and gruesome photos for farmers to display on footpaths and gateways, this site gives telephone numbers and email addresses to obtain them.

Think seriously about letting your dog off the lead near livestock, I doubt you would enjoy going home with just a dog lead. Remember that farmers move livestock from one field to another quite regularly, so check field are empty before you allow your dog to run freely on footpaths.

In National Parks livestock often roam freely and are not fenced in. National Parks are the most fabulous places to visit but please take time to learn about National Parks and how you should behave while spending time there.

Your dog may normally be gentle and calm but put it among sheep and natural instinct will kick in, the sheep will run and the dog will run after them. The dog doesn’t have to touch a sheep to cause damage. Be a responsible dog owner, always use a lead around livestock, during lambing time find somewhere away from sheep to walk your dog and never assume your dog is not a threat to livestock. This will keep you, your dog, the farmer and his stock happy and healthy.

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163 Responses to “Dogs and sheep worrying – the endless battle”

  1. crathiegirl Says:

    Instead of just warning dog owners their animals will be shot, just go ahead and shoot them. No warnings, no second chances. Just do it. Only by taking a harsh line with urban refugees out-of-control dogs will the owners learn the lesson. Harsh words I know but as a dog owner myself I would expect no less if one of mine savaged a sheep or calf.

  2. jan mcculloch Says:

    Another point to remember is – At lambing time especially – it is important not to disturb ewes with lambs; when sheep are afraid they all flock together – a natural instinct for them. But of course the lambs are then ‘mis – mothered’ and may follow the wrong ewe, resulting in them being pushed away when the flock settles and the ewe realises it is not her lamb that has followed her but a strange lamb.
    If the lambs are older, they soon find their mothers. If they are very young, they soon become tired and weak and if their mother does not find them quickly, they soon get cold from hunger and become too frail to suckle even if their mother finds them before they perish.
    With or without a dog, walkers should steer well clear of lambing fields.

  3. Sally Says:

    Great advice there Jan and being a shepherdess you should know!!

  4. jan Says:

    what happens when your local farmer allows his sheep to wander into my garden, am I allowed to shoot them!

  5. Sally Says:

    Not legally Jan but you can approach the farmer for compensation for damage done to your garden, I know that is of little help if you have spent years caring for your garden but when people have to pay up financially they tend to make sure their fences are fixed.

  6. jones from info om hunderacer (1 comments.) Says:

    nope you cannot shoot, dogs or sheep legally

  7. Sally Says:

    Hi Jones

    In the UK they can, it comes under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.

    This is fro the UK Kennel website

    Your dog must not worry (chase or attack) livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry) on agricultural land, so keep your dog on a lead around livestock. If your dog worries livestock, the farmer has the right to stop your dog (even by shooting your dog in certain circumstances).

  8. Phil Says:

    Interesting post – I always keep my dog on a lead near livestock and it annoys me that other dog owners don’t.

    I do have one question though which maybe someone can help me with.

    In April next year I am planning to walk a National Trail with my dog for charity. There will almost certainly be fields with sheep and lambs that need to be crossed. With a dog on a very short lead, is the impact of the dog minimised, and is there any advice on how to reduce the impact of walkers on the sheep / lambs generally.

    I appreciate Jan’s comments about avoiding the fields altogether, but that’s difficult when following a National Trail.

  9. m Says:

    cant the farmers claim comp for live stock damadge and i know that the farmes of sheep and cows get a grant yearly from goverment to go towards the running of the farm cattle
    so interm we pay your wages you shoot our dogs fix ur fences and learn to produce like the rest of the world be cheaper dont cry you cant and get help from us lern to adapt get out of the old ye farm in to the new farm
    ask Mc donald he knows how to farm

  10. Sally Says:

    Hi M it isn’t about compensation, it’s about the right of farmers to carry out their work without their flock being ripped to pieces by careless dog owners who more often than not have no right to be on the land in the first place.

    As for producing cheaper food … the public in the UK demands higher and higher welfare for farm animals, new legislation driven by publc concerns reduces the cheaper options for fertilisers and feeds .. so farmers here cannot produce food as cheaply as overseas where they can treat animals any way they please and spray anything they want on the crops.

  11. Sally Says:

    Hi Phil, sorry to take so long to reply I have been computerless for a week.

    Keeping the dog on a short lead is fine but try to also keep it calm, a dog panting, barking and straining at the lead can be stressful for sheep, particularly when they are lambing or have lambs at foot.

    Like any animal that has a flight instinct in the presence of danger, if you are walking toward a sheep or lambs slow down and give them time and room to flee.

    Be aware of clumps of reeds, small dips in the landscape, beside walls or fence posts, as young lambs will often be left in or near shelter while the mother grazes, so it’s easy to walk through a clump of reeds to suddnly come across two little trembling bodies. Just try to walk around anything that could be hiding lambs.

    That is really all you need to do to be a thoughtful dog owner and minimise the impact on livestock.

  12. Best Dog Beds (1 comments.) Says:

    Great post. I love taking time out of my workday to read some blogs about animals. Always nice to find some useful information in between all the fluff LOL (no pun intended :-) )

  13. Sally Says:

    Hi and welcome to the blog, thanks for leaving a comment it’s so nice to know I’m not just talking to myself .. although I do that as well lol

  14. Jays Says:

    My problem is with a couple of lambs my neighbours have recently aquired, probably to eat the long grass in their paddock, which is next door to my own garden, where of course my dog normally enjoys free access, (also a couple of free range chickens have arrived. ) We have post and rail fencing and as I am very cooncerned about my dogs interest in them, I suppose I will have to put up some sort of wire fencing down a very long stretch of garden, which I’m not very happy about. (time/expense to do this etc) Once I have taken these precautions do you think I will have done all I can – I can’t keep my dog in – nor put her on a lead on our own land. Any advice appreciated.

  15. Sally Says:

    Hi Jays, I’m sorry to hear you aren’t happy about having to keep your dog off your neighbours property. It is difficult when you have had freedom to roam land and of course will be confusing for the dog but your neighbours have the right to keep animals on their own land and as a dog owner it’s your responsibility to ensure your dog doesn’t trouble their animals.

    May I suggest before you start wire fencing that you speak to your neighbours and introduce the dog to the lambs. Of course this needs to be supervised … just see if your dog is simply curious and will get bored with them quickly or if your dog thinks they are fun toys to be chased. Our dogs were introduced slowly to our lambs until the point they just think of them as funny looking dogs and ignore them.

    The more time the dog spends around the lambs the less likely it is there would be a problem, although I would caution having “supervised visits” for some time. Dogs tend to sheep worry when they are not used to being around sheep and there are a flock of sheep (rather than one or two), as the scattering of sheep sends the dog into a “which one will I chase” frenzy and natural instincts kick in.

    However, if successful, this solution may make life a lot easier for you and your neighbours.

    If you have to resort to wire fencing then I would suggest you have done all you can to secure your dog in your own property, however if your dog escapes or jumps the fence you are still legally responsible for any damage your dog does.

    There is certainly no need to keep your dog tied up on your property unless he/she has a habit of escaping.

    If you’re really worried, perhaps by your dogs previous behaviour, then a call to citizens advice might be in order to check what your legal responsibilities are.

  16. mickey Says:

    Farmer are moaning ba****ds and always going on about other people and how poor they are. When there lambing they shouldnt leave sheep out in the fields. People do walk past with dogs on the lead and that scares the sheep just as much.

  17. Sally Says:

    Well I’ve heard everything now lol. Farmers shouldn’t leave animals in fields because dog owners should be free to walk around as they like. Nice one Mickey lol

  18. Matthew Says:

    Mickey have you actually ever been near a farm?

    The only part of your post that has any truth is that dogs scare sheep regardless, but sheep are a dam sight more scared when the dog can chase them all over the field! At least on a lead they can only go a few feet.

    Sally. I have the right to shoot on a farmers land where friend has 100 head of sheep. She has told me that i have hers and the farmers permission to shoot any dog that attacks their livestock. My question is am i covered by the law metioned above?

  19. Sally Says:

    Hi Matthew

    I’m not going to put my head in a noose and say you are or aren’t covered by the above law because a) I am not a lawyer b) I don’t know your circumstances or what relation you have to your local farm and c) I don’t know what type of firearm you use.

    Animals Act 1971

    3)Subject to subsection (4) of this section, a person killing or causing injury to a dog shall be deemed for the purposes of this section to act for the protection of any livestock if, and only if, either—

    (a)the dog is worrying or is about to worry the livestock and there are no other reasonable means of ending or preventing the worrying; or

    (b)the dog has been worrying livestock, has not left the vicinity and is not under the control of any person and there are no practicable means of ascertaining to whom it belongs.

    Farmers therefore have to prove they were acting in defence of their livestock and must report any shootings to the police within 48 hours of the incident.

    Be careful with the legislation though, it does read as though a dog can be considered worrying livestock if it is off the lead and having a run round on the other side of the field. We need to use this legislation sparingly and with a degree of logic, ie only if the dogs appear to be a real threat to our livestock.

    There are also laws covering the type of firearm that can be used so you need to check that out too.

    Dog owners are also financially liable for the damage their dog causes.

    I would suggest you pop in and talk to your local police and explain your circumstances to them, also take a permission letter from your friend and the farmer and get the police to take copies of the letters. Write down the number and name of the policeman or woman you speak to just in case you ever need their confirmation of what they told you in the future.

    Also remember that if there are rights of way through the farmland then dogs do not have to be on leads but they must be UNDER CLOSE CONTROL if there is livestock. This means you can’t shoot a dog for being off the lead if the owner has the dog under close control. Close control is not clearly defined but logic would suggest a dog not a lead that comes back to the owner and stays there as soon as it’s called would be classed as under close control.

  20. Matthew Says:

    Thank you for that advise.

    Since making my last post i have been doing more research which ties in with what you have said. I will talk to my local firearms officer very shortly to confirm all of this.

  21. Sally Says:

    Hi Matthew

    Would be great if you could drop by and let us know what your local police have to say about the situation, particularly if you are not the land or livestock owner.

  22. Matthew Says:

    Sally i will let you know what they have to say re any criminal matters but from my reading of the Animals Act 1971 section 9

    it would seam that as a last resourt shooters are covered under civil law provided they have the implied or expressed permission of the landoner or the owner of the livestock.

  23. Sally Says:

    We certainly had a couple of chaps with permission from us (registered with the local police) to shoot on our farm and they could, if there was no alternative, shoot uncontrolled dogs. They had to be interviewed by the police and obviously satisfy the law regarding storage and travelling with firearms. We’ve thankfully never had to shoot a dog on our land but our neighbours have and no action was taken against them because the son used his mobile to video the dog attacking a sheep while his father fetched the shotgun. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience for anyone but there was no choice, the dog had gone into a frenzy.

    Will be interesting to hear whether your local police have the same attitude as they do round here.

  24. Julie Says:

    Of course dogs should be shot for worrying or chasing sheep…. and I say this as an owner of 3 dogs myself and a big dog lover

    Farmer’s livelihood aside…sheep are totally defenceless and why should they be allowed to be menaced and attacked (I’ve seen the results of a dog attack on a sheep and it’s horrific).

    So if your dog is shot for this reason, blame yourself, not the farmer

  25. Matthew Says:


    I have spoken to my local firearms officer and he has told me that as long as i do it in accordance with the two pieces of legislation that we mentioned eariler, only shooting as a last resort and when it is worrying the live stock, then there will be no issue with the police.

    But i hope that i hope that i never have to be in that situatuion!

    As an extra thaugh would you be able to prosecute the dog owner for cruilty / neglect resulting in the animals death?

  26. Sally Says:

    Hi Matthew

    Well let’s hope you never have to do it but at least now you can be sure you are staying on the right side of the law.

    No, you can’t prosecute the dog owner for cruelty or neglect because the dog is simply doing what nature tells it to do and if it’s gone into a frenzy then the owner could be blue in the face running after the dog and screaming at it but the dog will be oblivious. However you can sue the owner for the damage the dog causes (ie the cost of a dead animal(s), vet’s fees, removal and disposal of the carcass).

  27. Jennie Says:

    Looks like all you farmers are interested in is shooting our dogs, or looking for ways to claim compensation.

    I reckon the whole ‘dogs worrying sheep’ situation is another way for you to make money, because, as we all know what normally happens is you catch our dogs who allegedly have been ‘worrying livestock’, give us a lecture which we are forced to endure and then demand that we pay for ‘the damage’. That way you end up with tax free additional income + your sheep who get just as worried by the dog chasing them as by you guys herding them!!! The whole situation is ridiculous and needs to be changed.

    The only thing that is saving our dogs from you lot is that you are probably not very good at aiming and more likely to shoot your own sheep than the dog!!!

    As to the whole nonsense about ‘we also own dogs’ – that does not hold as you treat your dogs as a working animal and not as a pat. Plus you are unable to be emotionally attached to an animal due to a simple fact that you grow animals and then send them to the slaughter house so you cannot possibly understand what pet owners feel towards their dogs.

  28. Sally Says:

    Hi Jennie

    Thanks for your comments. Good Lord … where do I start.

    1. “lecture which we are forced to endure” – why should you not have to endure a lecture. If I came to your place of work and allowed my dog to run amok would you not feel inclined to lecture me? If you are irresponsible enough to allow your dog to worry sheep then why shouldn’t the farmer, at the very least, lecture you.

    2. “Tax free additional income” – are you having a laugh? If I come and dig your flower beds up and kill the goldfish in your garden pond would you not demand compensation in order to replace your plants and fish? Of course you would. Would this be an additional tax free income for you or would the compensation simply replace what I allowed to be damaged or killed? Many farmers will insist on compensation because the lectures are ignored but people do learn to keep a dog on a lead after they have to pay up.

    3. “Your sheep who get just as worried by the dog chasing them as by you guys herding them” – may I suggest you arrange to visit a farm and see a working dog herding sheep. Do the sheep run due to natural instinct (fleeing from the dog), absolutely. Is the dog under control at all times, absolutely. Is the farmer aware and the dog well enough trained to know the difference between herding and hunting, yes. Is a pet chasing sheep under control at all times and has it been trained to herd, no.

    4. “As to the whole nonsense about ‘we also own dogs’ – that does not hold as you treat your dogs as a working animal and not as a pat” – Whether a dog owner treats his dog as a working animal or a pet is simply not relevent. What is relevent is whether the dogs owner has full control of the dog when it is around livestock. May I also suggest you watch One Man and His Dog … this show involved farmers and working sheepdogs, if you can’t see the close relationship between the handlers and their dogs then an eye test may be in order.

    5. “and then send them to the slaughter house so you cannot possibly understand what pet owners feel towards their dogs.” – utter nonsense. I have seen hardened farmers crying when old dogs have to be put to sleep. You seem to forget that most farmers spend more time with their loyal dog(s) than they do with their families. They do not work in offices and are with the dog almost constantly. The ability to raise animals as livestock to feed people does not mean a person is heartless or cannot have a loving relationship with a pet. As I type this one of my cats is curled on my lap and the other is hanging off the living room curtains, while I try to get over the loss of one of my dogs who had to be put to sleep yesterday due to cancer … I rest my case.

    If none of this convinces you I would ask you to look at the pictures in the links below … I warn you (and any other readers) they are rather gruesome and show sheep after attacks by “pet” dogs. One shows a live sheep with half of it’s face hanging off, can you honestly look at those and suggest that sheep have less rights to protection than your pet dog?

  29. jan mcculloch Says:

    I was distressed to read your comment jennie. I have been a shepherdess for many years – my dogs are my soul mates – I love them dearly – they and I have a great bond that far exceeds the relationship I have with my pet dogs. Many months of dedicated training, patience and LOVE makes a working dog jennie …. I do not know a single farmer who would disagree with me,

    Sally – I feel your responses to jennies comment are fair and accurate.

    Sadly there are very many non farming folk who do not appreciate how much our livestock means to us farmers; yes we rear animals to provide meat, but the breeding stock (cattle or sheep) stay with us for may years and we take great trouble to look after our them and keep them happy and healthy. I have had sheep that I delivered as lambs and who grew to be replacement sheep in my flock … any good stockman knows his sheep and cattle by sight and very many have names ,,,,
    we are not the heartless money grabbing folk that you claim jennie. .

  30. Simon (1 comments.) Says:

    I’m a dog owner but in complete agreement in the situation where it is private land. The law allows us to walk through parts of much of that land but we should be respectful of the owner and whatever they happen to be doing with it.

    Public land however is another story. I don’t think the livestock law applies here but many farmers are sending their livestock out into national parks etc. As this is ‘public land’, they should be equally as accepting. Most dogs are curious, mine will run towards a cow or sheep (worrying it) but never gets too close. I don’t feel we should be punished for other people’s lack of training.
    Simon´s last blog .. My ComLuv Profile

  31. Sally Says:

    Hi Simon

    Sorry to disagree but the law does apply to common land, as far as I understand it. This is what the countryside code says:

    # By law, you must control your dog so that it does not disturb or scare farm animals or wildlife. On most areas of open country and common land, known as ‘access land’ you must keep your dog on a short lead on most areas of open country and common land between 1 March and 31 July, and all year round near farm animals.
    # You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths, as long as it is under close control. But as a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. By law, farmers are entitled to destroy a dog that injures or worries their animals.

    taken from the Countryside Access website

    Remember the land may be common/public land but the livestock are still the property of the farmer.

  32. Matthew Says:


    Firstly not all of us on this blog are Farmers! For my self I am privileged to have permission to shoot on a sheep farmer friends land. As part of our arrangement I have been asked to protect her sheep from ignorant & stupid dog owners such as your self. 3 years ago she lost 8 lives (6 ewes & 2 unborn lambs) to 2 dogs, who’s owner could not be bothered to walk them so just let them out the back gate to exercise themselves.

    I think that your remark that it is way of getting extra money out of people shows your level of understanding of this situation! The compensation will never cover all the income that the life time of an animal can generate.

    Your point about emotional attachment is also completely inaccurate; my friend above has reared many of her flock by hand and can recognise all of sheep by site and name them.

    Though amazingly you do make one good point, the situation should be changed! However I think that it should no longer be a right for people to walk over farmer’s land it should be a privilege that is earned.

    Before you say that I am some kind of uncaring shoot anything that moves killer. I to am a dog owner and he is a pet, though like most Lurches he will chase any thing that moves. So like every responsible dog owner I keep him on a lead when around live stock.

  33. jan mcculloch Says:

    It seems odd to me that some people do not think it is cruel to allow their pet dogs to chase, frighten or maul livestock … and that they do not see the risk involved for their pet dog either – cattle can kick or trample a dog to death … Tups (rams) can batter a dog – it is only reasonable, in my own mind, to take care of ALL animals and prevent injury or death to them all by being a responsible dog owner.

  34. aidentas Says:

    I agree fully that dog owners should be responsible for their animals and are not in a position to complain if their charge are injured or killed whilst traumatising livestock.
    I have 5 acres and three dogs and am keen on getting some sheep to keep the grass at bay and for meat. We have already had a problem with the dogs attacking the chickens which we were hoping to allow free range though are now confined to their chicken tractor. The dogs take a small interest in the neighbors sheep, mostly barking which understandably scares the sheep from grazing our fields and the area around the house (the dogs domain.) Can anyone suggest the best method of getting the dogs to accept the sheep without all the commotion?

  35. Eve Says:

    Can anyone help me with a “worrying” dilemma? This morning I spotted two of my neighbours’ dogs (widely known locally for their “freeranging”) worrying the small flock of ewes grazing the paddock next to mine. I contacted the neigbour who, after about 20 mins, was able to call the dogs off. Should I notify the farmer of what’s happened, risking upsetting relations with my neighbour, or leave well alone now the dogs have been removed? My concern is that if any damage has been caused to the sheep by these dogs, my three labs, who’ve peacefully co-existed for years with the sheep/lambs behind my 5ft wire fences, might get blamed. Can anyone help with this?

  36. Sally Says:

    Hi aidentas, I shall ask my friend, the shepherdess for any suggestions and let you know.

  37. Matthew Says:


    Personally I would tell the farmer, as there is the possibility that the ewes could already be with lamb. Also on a selfish note why should your dogs get the blame for something they have not done.

    Though i can understand you not want to upset your neighbour, I would suggest that you note down in diary what happened and when. Though as you have already done that above simply add this page to your internet favorites incase you need it.

  38. Sally Says:

    Hi Eve

    I can understand why you feel this is a dilemma, it seems like a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation. Obviously this isn’t legal advice, just my opinion.

    First of all, in order for your dogs to be blamed the farmer would have to show that your dogs are able to get out of your garden, have evidence they were the dogs involved (eg video footage, photo’s or an eye witness) and the farmer could only take direct action against your dogs if he found them in with his livestock, so I don’t think you have too much to worry about with your dogs.

    My concern with your comment is that it took your neighbour 20 minutes to get their dogs under control and the ‘freeranging’ suggests this is not a one off where the dogs escaped and were brought under control as soon as possible. This does not bode well if the dogs get back in with the sheep.

    Personally I feel you have a responsibility to let the farmer know so he can go and check his ewes carefully for injuries, it would be dreadful if a ewe was suffering and nobody knew. He also needs to see if anything can be done to stop the dogs from getting into his field again.

    If you tell the farmer then explain your concerns about relations with your neighbour, as you are doing him a favour by letting him know he should have the decency to keep you out of it and approach your neighbour saying a member of his family or a friend saw the dogs in the field and explaining the possible consequences if it happens again.

    Alternatively, if you don’t want to be directly involved you could approach your Local Council Animal Warden and explain what is happening to them, asking them to speak to your neighbour about controlling their dogs and let the farmer know what is going on.

  39. jan McCulloch Says:

    Eve, I would agree with Sal and Mathew – tell the farmer – but ask him to keep his ‘source’ confidential. He will more than likely be very grateful to you for the tip off and when he sees you try to keep an eye on his sheep for him he will not want to divulge his source.

    aidentas – your problem with your dogs needs to be addressed from the absolute basics onwards – you need to train your dogs to understand a simple command – this can be either ‘Leave!’ or ‘Lie down!’ or ‘Stay’ ….. the name of the command is not so important …. but ensuring the dog understands the command and obeys it is vitally important.

    Can you ask your dogs to ‘stay’ and be confident they will do as you ask?
    For instance …. if you place a biscuit or treat on the floor and ask your dog to ‘stay’ or ‘leave’ how confident are you that the dog will obey?
    If your dog was about to run into traffic on a busy road and you shouted ‘Lie down!’ …. how confident are you that your dog will drop like a stone into the lying position, saving his life with his obedience?

    From what you say about the hens, it looks like your dogs are not accepting you as their leader and they are not obeying your commands; you have to start with the very basics, ensuring the dog understands and obeys your commands, before introducing the dog to livestock.

    Working with each individual dog, alone, and fine tuning the training is helpful, before moving on to asking the dogs to do things as a group.

    When you can ask one dog to ‘Stay’ while the other two walk with you, at your heels, you will be reaching a point where you can start to feel confident that you are in control.

  40. Eve Says:

    Many thanks for your wise words, Matthew, Sally and Jan – very much appreciated. Thankfully, all the ewes appear to be uninjured*. They eventually emerged from the gully in the paddock they retreated to and resumed grazing apparently unharmed. They may well be with lamb (raddle marks) as Matthew suggested, so I have now alerted the farmer to the incident using the approach you suggest. Fingers crossed there’ll be no comeback.

    * My labs bed down in my office during the day and they alerted me immediately to what was going on by speeding out of the door & down to the fence to check out the noise. Without their warning, nobody would have known what was happening & more damage might have been caused. (Some of) The dogs done good, I reckon! Thanks again for your guidance, folks.

  41. Sally Says:

    You’re welcome Eve, I do hope the farmer does the decent thing and keeps you out of it. Thank you for letting him know.

  42. Dave Says:

    Hi all,

    As someone who used to live in a villiage surrounded by farms but never owned any pets I completely agree with the law for the protection of livestock.

    I have walked friends dogs before when they have been away and even though they rarely see me, they do listen to me so when i walk them in a local park (no livestock or access to livestock anywhere nearby) I am 100% confident when I let them off the lead.

    Having known many farmers in the area where I used to live to get extremly upset when they loose their animals to irresponsible (and as stereotypical as this sounds) sub-urban dog owners who have no idea about the “rules” of the countryside which for the most part is simple common sense.

    I just saw a piece on the news about a sheep that got mauled by a pet dog a few weeks earlier and only in the last few days as the swelling went down was it discovered the sheep had a broken jaw and couldn’t eat properly and was rapidly loosing weight meaning to stop it from suffering any more the vet had to put it to sleep, devistating for the farmer.

    And the last few months there have been a number of news reports of dogs and owners getting trampled to death by cattle because they were foolish enough to enter fields with their dogs off the leads which scared the cattle, and unlike sheep, they didn’t run away from the source of the commotion.

    Even if I wasn’t from the countryside, the last thing I would do is enter a field full of cattle with a dog, i know this country has public rights of way which sometimes goes through some private land that can’t be blocked but in this day of health and safety culture, the government might be right that people just don’t have any common sense any more and need to be taught how things work in the countryside and what they can and can’t do.

    Well that my opinion


  43. Sally Says:

    Thanks for your opinion Dave. I agree many people think you can say shoo and wave your arms and cattle will run away but that is rarely the case.

  44. alison Says:

    I have just experienced a really horrible incident – for me, the farmer and the sheep and I just want people with dogs to know that, unless they are trained sheepdogs, you can NEVER trust your dogs near livestock. I have always considered myself a responsible dog owner ( over 25 years dog owning in rural area without mishap) and keep my dogs on the lead if I ever see sheep grazing, other dogs and near other people’s property. Living on commonland I have also been walking my dogs around pegged sheep pens to acclimatise them and they haven’t barked or even seemed very interested. Yesterday – knowing that sheep were pegged on the other side of the common from where I was I let my dogs off briefly in a quiet spot well away visually and distance wise from the sheep. Well, without warning one of them raced off, covered the distance in minutes and chased the sheep right out of their pen. My dog had obviously remembered from previous walks where they were (or heard something on the wind?) and instinct cut in. Nobody could make me feel any worse than I already do about this – luckily they were older lambs, not already tupped, and they were all herded and apparently ok although spooked. Even though my dog kept her distance and barked rather than bit I know it would have been my fault entirely if she’d been shot. I just want to say – you may think you know your animal.. but if there are livestock anywhere in reachable distance keep your dog on a lead, the wolf in them comes from nowhere. I have committed what I consider to be a cardinal sin of the countryside and truly feel sick about it. I will never let my dogs off the lead again on commonland, and fully understand the farmer’s anger. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! Don’t make the same mistake.

  45. Sally Says:

    Hi Alison

    Thank you for sharing your experience … been there got the t-shirt. You think you know your dogs and it’s such a shock when they refuse to listen and instinct takes over. Around livestock leads are the right answer every time.

  46. Clare Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Jennie’s comments (Oct 15th 09) re farmers’ double standards, thay have working dogs who they do not become ‘fond’ of and would not be devastated if they were cruely shoot by another.
    My dog recently attacked a ewe one of many that were on our ground in a paddock which had been fenced off. The farmer was only too happy to have free grazing until the ewe stuck it’s head through the fence and my dog in an opportunistic moment attacked and wounded it while still in our garden!! Why, I now ask myself did the farmer allow ewes to graze so near to a domestic dog in the first place if as so many of you say ewes can become stresses just being near a do! Of course I answered my own Q earlier… FREE grazing!
    As a result the farmer wanted us to have my dog put down which I absolutely refused and would have seen him in court first! Needless to say we paid out a ridiculous sum……all for one ewe…..who eventually would have ended up in the slaughterhouse anyway!
    It was extrememely stressful for all of us.

  47. Sally Says:

    Hi Clare, it is very unfair of you to generalise and say farmers do not become ‘fond of’ their dogs I am particularly attached to mine and know many other farmers who are very attached to their dogs. Also many family pets are dreadfully abused by owners who couldn’t care less about them, so should I say pet owners are not fond of their dogs?

    What would have happened if a child had stuck it’s hand through your fence to pet your dog? It is your responsibility to ensure your fencing is adequate to keep your dog from hurting anything but I agree it is also the farmers responsibility to ensure his sheep are in a securely fenced area.

    The sarcasm about the ewe ending up in the slaughterhouse aside … I am curious as to whether you are a vegetarian?

    As for the farmer wanting your dog to be put down, the issue is not about whose land the dog was on. The dog has now attacked a sheep and shown it is not safe to be around livestock. You say you let the farmer use your land free of charge so I am assuming you live in a rural area, how can you say your dog will not attack livestock in the future?

  48. Jo Says:

    I think it is a shame that their has to be so much animosity between people who love the countryside and animals. I agree that it is unacceptable to allow dogs to chase sheep, but also know that dogs do need to have time off the lead for exercise, especially the working breeds. The term “dog under control” is much used but can mean different things to different people, for some it means must be on a lead.
    What facinates me is that farmers are obviously experts at training their own dogs not to chase livestock and could use this to help their own locals to train the dogs that threaten their sheep. Perhaps the farmers could help to provide a solution that would benefit all. I am particularly keen to have my dog “stock-proof” as he has a good nose and potential for mountain rescue but MUST be stock-proof for this. I have heard that if you put a dog in a stable with a pair of tups this can put the dog off chasing sheep for a lifetime. But is it cruel? I don’t know – but if no animal is harmed and the dog never chases a sheep afterwards, it has to be worth a try. Or are there any farmer/shepherds out there who know how to achieve this? Can you offer any advice? If there is a farmer local to Shropshire/Staffordshire out there who would be willing to help me (and yes, I would pay for it because I would see it as an important part of training my dog) I would love to hear from you. If you google sheep-worrying there is only one trainer who advertises who offers this type of training. Is it any wonder we have problems?

  49. CJ Says:

    This whole worrying sheep is a massive grey area. i have been brought up around farming all my life and understand “Protecting your livestock”. But i have a serious issue when a farmer approaches me in front of my 5 year old niece and threatens to shoot our dog for sheep worrying. The dog was no where near the sheep like i said i know the laws etc. The said farmer has also shot dogs previously that where not worrying his sheep. This law needs looking into and ammending as i am all for protecting your own as such but it has gone too far when “A Farmer” can walk around the open mountain side (Common land) shooting other animals as and when he chooses.
    Any comments would be appreciated.

  50. Matthew Says:


    The law is not grey about when aperson can shoot a dog to protect livestock. From my conversations with firearms officers, a person can only shoot a dog when it is attacking livestock. To shoot a dog afer the incident is against the law. I have found the following web site very usful

    particually this part
    Subject to subsection (4) of this section, a person killing or causing injury to a dog shall be deemed for the purposes of this section to act for the protection of any livestock if, and only if, either—.
    (a)the dog is worrying or is about to worry the livestock and there are no other reasonable means of ending or preventing the worrying; or.
    (b)the dog has been worrying livestock, has not left the vicinity and is not under the control of any person and there are no practicable means of ascertaining to whom it belongs.

  51. Sally Says:

    I do understand what CJ is saying, a neighbour at a farm I used to live in would have shot my dogs had they simply wandered onto his land. He was a brute of a man and seemed to simply enjoy shooting dogs. However, it turned out he only began behaving that way after he woke one morning to a blood bath in his field, due to a couple of local pet dogs on the loose.

    I really wouldn’t like the law to be reveiwed or ammended, dog owners need to keep dogs under control when around livestock but I do think farmers need to be educated in the specifics of the law and what constitutes sheep worrying.

  52. PJ Says:

    I had a situation this morning, where by mistake my children opened the front door to go out in the snow and forgot to shut it in time – consequently my lab got out and chased a farmers sheep. The lab in question has chased his sheep on one previous occasion about 8 months ago when a friend took her for a walk. She was incorrectly accused a third time – she was not even here.

    I whole heartedly agree I am in the wrong my dog should never have chased the sheep. Since the one previous time, I no longer walk my dog in the village, do not let my dog off the lead unless I am on a walk where there are no livestock – there are two near me where I can safely do this so she gets the exercise she needs and no harm can come to sheep. So I have made efforts to ensure this does not happen. Of course I am angry with myself this morning that she slipped out. The farmers naturally are furious with me. She did not touch the sheep but she did chase which I fully understand is not good. The farmers are informing the police.

    I’m a little frustrated that all my efforts have been in vein though at the same time I understand the farmers frustration. If she is not put down by the police, I don’t know where I stand on this, then I will try one of the electric collars. It would really help me if I could work with the farmer – ie when the sheep are not in lambing and I know the collar works we could let her near them and shock her but he is inapproachable.

    So I guess I’m saying I do understand the farmers, I feel very bad this has happen twice in the year I have had the dog. she is my fourth lab and I had no trouble from the previous 3. I believe I am doing everything I can to be a responsible dog owner but feel reading this thread I will only be seen as a villain.

    I am at my wits end – any suggestions would be gratefully received.

  53. Sally Says:

    Oh poor you PJ, really I feel for you it’s a very awkward situation.

    Sorry it’s taken me a few days to reply. Have the police been in touch? If not then I suggest you go to see the community police officer and ask his/her advise on the situation.

    This will achieve a couple of things, it will show you are trying your best to control the situation and heaven forbid should your dog get out again then the police will at least be aware you aren’t just letting her roam about aimlessly. You could also ask the police to be a go between with you and the farmer, if the suggestion about helping to train your dog (and how concerned and responsible you are dropped in for good measure) came from them it may be better received.

    There is the farming method of teaching a dog not to worry sheep … I have never used it because I’m a big softy and I doubt the RSPCA would approve either, so I am not recommending it personally but I am told it works very well and is surely a better alternative than having the dog shot. Simply put your dog in a secure pen with a couple of strapping rams and close your eyes …. the dog will limp out battered, bruised and spend the rest of her life trying to avoid sheep. It would also be a much quicker method than the electric shock treatment (shudders) but I imagine takes a strong stomach.

    With all this said farmers need to understand that neighbours dogs do occassionally get out, as farmers livestock do but we don’t go round shooting them. Farmers must work with the local community to ensure everyone can live quitely and happily, without all the shouting and cursing that goes on.

    If this particular farmer is not approachable you could get in touch with the NFU and ask if they have any members in your area who might be willing to help you train your dog. Not all farmers are belligerent gits but we have more than our fair share I will admit.

  54. Chris Says:

    My new neighbours have erected a sturdy fence around their garden in an attempt to control their sheep worrying dog (which has seriously injured two of my animals in the last few mouths, one of which had to be culled as a result of a broken back).

    So far I haven’t sought compensation for these losses, because a) they recognise their responsibility and are clearly distraught by what’s happened. b) They’ve spent a lot of money, time and effort to try and control ‘the problem’ and c) I don’t want to get our relationship as new neighbours off to a bad start.

    Yesterday, however, one of my sheep stuck it’s head through their stock fencing to nibble grass on their side and immediately found itself in a world of pain! Although I treated it’s wounds immediately it was looking very sorry for itself when I did my rounds this morning and the outlook isn’t promising.

    Where do I stand legally in such a situation? The dog was on it’s owner’s land after all. The problem is that like most sheep, mine invariably find the grass greener on the other side of the fence. It’s not just the animals in the fields either. We live in a moorland environment, where I exercise commoners grazing rights. Quite often, particularly during harsh weather such as we’ve been experiencing lately, animals will move down off the moor and congregate in the lane around our property.

    I’m a dog owner myself with two much loved working collies. As such as I hate the idea of dogs being muzzled, but I’m beginning to think that the only solution is that their dog should wear one whenever it’s outdoors.

    One thing’s for sure, quite apart from the suffering to my animals, I simply cannot continue to sustain these financial losses. Therefore I’ve decided to claim compensation for the next animal that dies. Possibly today! With market prices as high as they are at the moment, I’m confident that an invoice for the loss of the sheep plus the removal of its carcass is going to come as something of a new year shock to my new neighbours.

  55. Wendy Says:

    Hi, can anyone give me any advise….. ami doing the right thing? My husband went out today with our german shepherd for a walk in the woods. He lost sight of the dog for a few minutes then realised he had got through or over a barbed wire fence into the sheep field. By the time he caught the dog there was a dead sheep in the field, y husband couln’t see any blood so doesn’t know if it died of shock or the dog attacked it.
    He then came home, telephoned the famer and left a message for him to call us regarding the fatality.
    Unfortunately the dog insurance doesnt cover worries to livestock and i dont know if any more will be found dead tomorrow. I dread to think of the cost but i’ll have to worry about that when the farmer comes back to us.
    Is there anything else i should do ie report it to the police? Do i have to get my dog destroyed? etc Obviously we will have to keep the dog on a lead at all times in future :(

  56. Sally Says:

    Hi Wendy

    Has the farmer been in touch with you yet?

    First of all I am not aware of any law which would allow your dog to be destroyed now. The only time a farmer can shoot a dog is if he catches it actually worrying sheep and the dog owner is not present or cannot get the dog under immediate control (ie there is no way to stop the worrying until the dog gets bored with it).

    Did your husband touch the dead sheep to see whether it was still warm (therefore had it just died)? I’m asking because it’s the time of year when sheep seem to find delight in dropping down dead for no apparent reason just to pee farmers off, so it may have already been dead.

    Everything really depends on the farmer and whether you are sure your dog was the cause of the sheep’s death. He could choose to sue you or just accept payment for his losses and an assurance to keep the dog on a lead in future.

    One of the most important issues at the moment is to get your dog under control. Go to training classes so that when you or your husband call the dog it WILL respond to your command and return to heel … it takes effort but much better than having your dog shot and will make your walks more enoyable if you can let him/her off the lead in “safe” areas.

  57. Sally Says:

    Hi Chris

    Well done on the attitude, you have been very patient with the situation and your neighbours appear to have taken responsibility.

    I can’t advise on the legal standing, think you’re best to see a solicitor for that or if you’re a member of the NFU they will be able to advise you.

    I certainly don’t see how it could be classed as sheep worrying if the dog is on it’s own property, so could you sue if your livestock get onto their property and are attacked? It’s an odd situation and best to get professional advice.

    What sort of stock fencing have they put up, which allows the sheep to get it’s head through? Sounds like it needs to be a smaller gauge fence or even hexagonal wire netting to stop anything getting through from either side.

    As you say the new neighbours have done their best to control the situation, which is more than many do, so what about asking them to add some hexagonal wire netting to the lower part of the fence to stop sheep grazing through … maybe even split the cost with them as it’s got to be cheaper in the long run than the costs you have had so far.

    The only other alternative I can think of is double fencing the garden (with a 4 foot space between fences), it would look a little odd but their dog would be unable to attack anything.

    It’s certainly better to continue to work with your neighbours to solve the problem but I would get professional advise on your rights and responsibilities.

  58. Wendy Says:

    Hi Sally, thank you for your reply. No the farmer hasn’t got in touch yet and No my husband didnt touch the sheep to see if it was warm but when i asked him that he said its funny you say that because it did actually look rather stiff considering it had only just died. May be our dog didnt actually kill it (i sooo hope not) We discussed it today and decided that a training class is now a priority, he is only 2 years old and in general a pretty obedient dog, the recall is obviously his main problem and needs to be addressed immediately.

  59. Rebecca Says:

    I rehomed a dog yesterday evening from a rescue centre. Imagine my horror when I was attempting to leave the house the dog shot past me and the pushchair and headed into the field next door to us and started hassling the sheep!
    I could not get her to listen to me or come back…It was so distressing, but I live next door to farmland and the sheep are in the field next to our house over winter. Since having her she has always been on the lead, but she escaped and was determined. I was so shocked. It is a natural instinct and I was horrified. I dont know what to do now for the best as she may escape again. I guess she will have to go back into rescue regrettably. :(

  60. Sally Says:

    Hi Wendy

    As the farmer has not got back to you it MAY mean the sheep was already dead and he was aware of it. At least you had the decency to call him and let him know what had happened.

    Good luck with the obedience classes … just remember they WANT you to be the boss.

  61. Sally Says:

    Hi Rebecca

    Sorry I’m confused, you say you rehomed her yesterday and then say since you have had her … so I’m not sure how long she has been with you.

    What she needs is training. If she only came to you yesterday then she will be overexcited and has no bond with you (ie no idea you are the boss) so of course she will not respond to you.

    I would suggest either training classes or if your neighouring farmer is willing take her to “meet” the sheep, it’s a long process before you can trust a dog around sheep completely but it may curb her chasing instincts.

    Unfortunately training will take time, so at first perhaps you can close the dog in a room or cage (you could probably get a travel cage from Freecycle either free or very cheaply) and simply shut the dog in when you are going out of the door or if you want to take the dog out then put her in the cage until you get her lead on.

    Time and patience is required, as with all dogs and with rescue dogs you don’t know, it may be the first time she has ever seen sheep.

  62. Rewser Says:

    I have just fallen victim to accepting a level of trust in my dog off the lead. I have been working with him to walk with me through the woods off the lead which has been successful with him no farther that 5 feet away from me. I considered him to be under close control – how wrong I was.

    Having had him close by I called him to sit as I went to put him back on the lead, which he did. Just as I was approaching him, his ears pricked up and then he darted off. All recalls were in vein however as instinct had kicked in.

    He had spotted a field of sheep which was two fields and a (minor) road away from the woods. I chased him as quickly as I could but by the time I reached the field he was running in and around the sheep with the farmers screaming at him, and at me to get rid of him. I jumped the wall into the field, despite one farmer having his gun trained on my dog, threatening to shoot, and eventually regained control of him after a few minutes. I must point out that he only chased the sheep and didn’t nip or maul any of them.

    To my dismay, I was informed that the sheep in the field were in fact pregnant ewes (and a couple of lambs), a cardinal sin as the ewes may abort due to the stress! The atmosphere was heated, as you would expect, so I left my details with the farmer’s son and headed home as quickly as possible. The ewes themselves are (or at least appear to the farmer at this early stage) fine, the issue now is that there may be aborted pregnancies.

    That is the situation, now this is my view:

    My dog was trespassing and harassing someone elses property. In the eyes of the law, the land owner is entitled to take reasonable means to protect his livestock. This involves shooting him on the spot. However angry I may have been if this would have been the case, I would have accepted it.

    My dog was the trespasser, therefore he, and his actions, are my responsibility whether I sent him into the field or whether he went of his own accord.

    I didn’t want to offer the farmer any excuse like ‘this is completely out of character’ or ‘he wouldn’t hurt a fly’ (although under normal circumstances this is his general character) as this is no help to the people who’s livelihood I may put in jeapordy.

    The day after, I went around to the farm to speak to the farm owner about the incident. This conversation was mainly me offering my heartfelt apologies, I am genuinely sick to my stomach with regret, for damaged which may be caused to what is essentially another mans livelihood.

    He was a very approachable person, which certainly helped, athough he would have been justified in not being given the circumstances. He decided not to ‘lecture’ me about the responsibilities of dog ownership, especially around livestock, but offered tips and advice on how to deal with it not happening again.

    I have left my details with him, and he will be in touch if, god forbid, something should happen to the unborn lambs. My aim in dealing with this situation is to be respectful to others and be responsible for the actions of my own property (i.e. my dog).

    Although what’s done is done, and I will take measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again, hopefully this will go some way to showing that, although incidents can and do occur, some dog owners do remain responsible throughout adversity. We (some) are not as irresponsible as some people may make out but there is no denying that mistakes can happen.

    Basically by showing mutual respect for each others position, a situation that could easily escalate has been contained and dealt with promptly, respectfully and responsibly.

    My view is to basically accept responisibity and deal with the situation in hand. Excuses are useless. However I do feel that apologies, sincere apologies, can go a long way to reaching a respectful conclusion to such a situation.

    Although the outdoors type, I am not a rural person. I do not know when the lambing season is, I have previously been unaware as to the absolute dangers of livestock worrying and its consequences. I feel that there is a general lack of awareness and if you don’t know about something, you can’t research it to find out more information. There were no signs in the woods to advise me to keep my dog on its leash, had I seen one, I would have instantly obeyed. However, having learned the hard way, both my fiancee and I are keen to raise more awareness of this issue among dog owners to help reduce the number of such incidents as I don’t want another farm owner to have to go through what I have put him through!

    I would value your opinions as to my situation and how it has been dealt.


  63. Sally Says:

    Hi Rewser

    Thanks for your comments.

    Personally I think you have acted very responsibly and luckily for you and your dog you came across a good farmer.

    Dogs do what dogs do, they are animals first and pets second and we must always remember that. Just because your dog returns to you when you call it in a normal setting doesn’t mean it will do so in a strange setting. Think of all the new smells and sounds your dog was experiencing, instinct takes over.

    The problem with putting signs up in the countryside is they would have to be on every tree and fence post, it’s just not practical. What we need is more responsible dog owners to take time to read BEFORE they go into the countryside … but as you discovered people tend to think they know their dog until it’s too late.

    As it has been 2 days since you posted your comment I would expect any resulting abortions to have occurred by now. A quick call to the farmer to ask would stand you in good stead, it shows you have taken the incident seriously and not just gone home and forgotten about it.

    People in the country want your dog to run around and have fun but yes it’s important to know when and where you can let them off the lead. Why not consider joining a rambling association, they have plenty of such information. You can also get a lot of info from local councils environment offices.

    You will know your dog is under close control when you can take him/her into any new situation and it comes when called. Try taking your dog out and when it meets a strange dog call yours back and see if it comes or gives you the “gone deaf” act. When he/she comes back, no matter what other interesting things are going on, then you are on the road to having your dog under close control.

  64. Matthew Says:


    From what you have put in your message you have conducted yourself in what i consider the best possible way given the situation. It is a shame that far too many dog owners do not take these situations as seriously as you have done. I for one hope that you will be able to help educate fellow dog owners of their responsibilities, as farmers need all the help they can get.

    Sally, I think that in certain circumstances signs can and do work. My sheep farming friend has some signs that she puts up every year at the public footpath entrances to one of her fields during lambing season. They help focus walker’s minds as to what is going on around them. As an interesting aside they were supplied to her by a local whose do ran amuck amongst her sheep one year.

  65. Matthew Says:

    I was recently informed of a farmer in Warwickshire that when people walked across his land on a public footpath (on one side of the path a stone wall on the other a wire fence) with their dogs he would shoot at the dogs regardless of whether they were on the lead or not. Thankfully this farmer has not had his shotgun licence revoked and guns confiscated. Sadly for this to happen at least one couple had to be fired at and a second dog walker actually got hit in the leg. Hopefully farmers like this are 1 in a billion! As the actions of this one individual will not help the relations between the farming / shooting communities and the wider public.

  66. Anonymous Says:

    Why can’t you farmers use tranquiliser guns instead of shotguns?
    Personally I think its disgusting what you farmers are able to do, its only sheep for goodness sake your going to be sending them off to slaughter houses anyway!
    I ve lost a loyal friend because of a farmer not because of carelessness, my two dogs were taken from my garden by a gang of youths and up the mountain and let them onto a farm where there were sheep grazing etc., My two dogs were chasing the sheep and the farmer shot the one dead and injured the other. After a whole day of searching for them we received a call from a farmer who said ‘I have your dog, he’s dead because I’ve shot him and I want money from you’!!!!We had to go to the farm and collect our dog which was extremely traumatising. After we had burried our dog, we continued our search for the other to no avail. We had a sleepless and restless night and continued the next day to search for our other dog. We made calls to various people and eventually found that he had been taken to an emergency vet after call was made to the RSPCA as he had been injured by the farmer and abused by this group of boys!!

    So…. I assure you that we are responsible dog owners and are absolutely distraught at our loss and to see what our surviving dog has had to go through. I am happy to pay the Vets fees for saving my dog’s life but nothing is going to bring back my other dog.

    If farmers could tranquilise dogs this would have had a much happier ending. I am sure that responsible and loving pet owners would be willing to pay for fees for tranquilising and other fees incurred by farmers as we certainly would have.

    We are vegetarians so already have issues with farmers and slaughterhouses but becuase of this unnecessary and unfortunate incident nothing will ever be the same for us.

    In my opinion the farmers who send their stock off to slaughter houses AND kill pet or stray dogs are animal Killers – its animal cruelty either way you look at it!

    and now because of the ‘law’ and because of sadistic people we’ve lost our precious loyal companion, the hurt is unbearable

    So is this right?!

  67. Sally Says:

    Hi Anonymous

    What a very sad story and I am sorry you lost one of your dogs.

    While you do not feel responsible for your dogs running amok in the farmers livestock I hope you will see the farmer also feels no responsibility for it. He is unaware of who brought your dogs to worry his sheep, all he knows is your dogs were worrying his sheep and he took the necessary steps to stop it.

    Tranquilising … it is an interesting idea but possibly not practical. I am no scientist or vet but I believe tranquilisers have to be administrered according to the weight, age, etc of the dog … not something a farmer can do.

    It was sad top read your comment explaining that you are vegetarians and care for animals but then say “its only sheep for goodness sake your going to be sending them off to slaughter houses anyway!”. Firstly it is a mistake to say they will sent to slaughter houses anyway. It can take generations to build up a good breeding herd and if we simply sent them all to slaughter then the herd would be gone. Many of the ewes will be used year after year for breeding. Secondly it is also strange to read your empathy for animals followed by they are only sheep … are sheep not sentient beings?

  68. Sally Says:

    Hi Matthew

    You are absolutely right about signs and if I was talking to a farmer I would be rattling on about putting signs up (I was born to be a devil’s advocate lol) but I was hoping my comments would be read by dog owners looking for information about visiting the country and encourage them to learn before they go rather than relying on signs.

  69. Sally Says:

    I do hope you mean he DID have his licence revoked and guns confiscated EEK … quite frankly he should be arrested and is obviously a very bad example of farmers.

  70. John Says:

    Farmer’s are so hypocritical. They go on about the distress caused to sheep and lambs by dogs, and how they are ‘savaged’ by them. You would think that they were talking about much-loved pets here. Who are they trying to kid? We all know that all they care about is money. That’s it – final! They can’t give a monkeys about the welfare of their livestock, just as long as they produce lambs for the slaughter at the end of the day. And what of the lucrative puppy-farming that a lot of the farmers are taking up these days? I know many that are doing it secretly and totally illegally and have seen the state of their over-bred dogs, wandering late at night, heavily pregnant. Farmers are a totally despicable lot and I know this from experience.

  71. Matthew Says:


    Yes i ment to put “now had”

  72. Matthew Says:

    Hi Anonymous

    Firstly I would like to say that to loose your dog because of your own stupidity is bad enough but to have someone else loose it for you is in another league completely and for that you have my sympathies!

    On the issue of the use of tranquilisers aside from the impracticalities Sally has mentioned a number of such chemicals (and probably all) are not available to just any old Jo farmer they require licenses and special qualifications.

    For supposedly animal loving Vegetarians it would appear that you pick and choose the animals which you stand up for e.g:
    “…its only sheep for goodness sake your going to be sending them off to slaughter houses anyway!”
    I hope that you would not condone pet dogs being allowed to chase sheep just because the sheep may be destined for the slaughter house! As that would be cruel!

    Can I ask how you would feel if someone drove a vehicle through your garden tearing up the plants, knocking over trees and shrubs also steeling money from your bank account? Would you not want to be compensated for the damage done? As this is effectively happens when dogs worry sheep, particularly when they are in lamb. Or would just think well all the plants and shrubs will be dead come winter anyway and I would have only spent that money? Somehow I think not!

    From looking through this and other blogs on this subject, it seems to me that dog owners are angry at farmers (for shouting at them or shooting their dog) to mask their feelings of guilt. However this particular case is quite unique in that both you and the farmer are the victims. I personally think that you should aim your very understandable anger at the youths who stole your dogs as they are the ones responsible for this situation.

  73. gwp Says:

    Hi. A very strange thing happened. My dog’s a city dog. We recently moved to the outskirts beside a lake with some fields. She’s a 14 year old mixed breed and we’re delighted to be living somewhere were she can run wild as she loves to. She very intelligent and still quickly learns new commands despite her age, she likes climbing hills, is a great mouser and a pro at finding things. In the city we always kept her on the leash because there are way too many kids (people) around. Over the last month we’ve trained her to walk lead-less and respond to every command no matter how excited she is by the new natural outdoor surroundings.

    Here’s the weird bit. During the daytime, some shepherds bring their herd in to the fields everyday. My dog’s been watching them from the balcony everyday and getting excited. We always make sure we only take her off the leash after the sheep have left.

    On the said evening I saw some sheep leave with a shepherd, but I didn’t know another group stayed behind. We went by the lake and took her off the lead and she trotted off to frolic. Now usually, she responds to our first call, but that evening, something in the wind caught her fancy and she shot off towards the lake with no warning. We gave her the STAY command and whistled for her to heel, but she just went. I gave chase and coming over a hillock I saw the remaining sheep, so my partner joined in and soon the two of us were tearing after our precious pooch and the scattered sheep.

    Imagine our surprise when our dog ran around the field’s perimeter, back and forth twice, with two sharp barks, instead of charging at the sheep. Then she just stood and looked at them. Half the sheep came towards her and she lead them to the shepherd. She then trotted up to the far side where a few sheep were grazing and gently nudged them and rounded them ALL up near the waiting shepherd within 20 seconds flat. Then she playfully trotted over to the shepherd and rubbed herself lovingly across his legs and The shepherds were laughing and petting her. The sheep looked calm and continued chewing. The pooch bounded back to me and my partner by the time my partner and I reached the lot, flustered, hot, panting and scared witless imagining a field filled with dead carcasses and blood.

    This morning was equally strange. I had her on the leash when the shepherd came in with his sheep. We were around 15 feet away. She strained for a second at her leash and gave a short yip. When they saw her, instead of stressing some sheep broke away from their herd and came trotting towards her. But the herder pulled em back in. She sat down quietly on the side of the road to look at the sheep and for some reason some more sheep wanted to come towards her. The shepherd had to keep getting them back towards the lake so I left from there.

    Some cows also come to roam here. But my dog and the cows are equally wary of each other and keep their distance.

    I was just wondering if sheep like certain types of dogs. Or if sheep are suicidal.

    PS- I’m in India. If my dog attacks a sheep I’ll just have to pay for damages and that’s all. But I can’t abide by the imaginary sheep carcasses drifting through my nightmares. I’ve been worrying about attacks or something like this since we moved here and I saw the sheep. Any suggestions about what’s going on here? Does this sound like a potentially dangerous situation building? Should I worry or change her walk timings or ask the shepherds to formally introduce her to the sheep clan since they seem to all like each other? Why aren’t the sheep scared of her?

  74. Sally Says:

    Hi GWP

    What an interesting situation. Clearly the sheep are not seeing your dog as a threat, perhaps your dog is not sending out “coming to get you signals”.

    This one is rather beyond my experience though so I have asked my friend, Jan the Shepherdess, to come and reply to you, maybe she can shed some light for both of us.

    Oh and yes, sheep are naturally suicidal, I am sure they draw straws in the morning to see who’s turn it is to drop down dead for absolutely no reason.

  75. Sally Says:

    Hi John

    Farmers do not try to suggest their herds are much loved pets, farming is a business and a damned hard one but do you think it is a pleasant experience walking into a field and seeing a ewe lying with half her face ripped off? I can assure you it is not.

    Of course there are some bad farmers, as there are bad people in any walk of life but a majority are good people and DO care about the welfare of their stock, both on a financial and moral basis.

    There is nothing hypocritical in that, just because animals are eventually destined for a slaughterhouse does not mean the farmer doesn’t care for it’s welfare and suffering. So why should dog owners be allowed to roam the countryside letting their dogs run loose and leaving a trail of suffering, destruction and financial loss behind them?

  76. Matthew Says:


    Firstly let me congratulate you on having the dubious honour to know only the worst farmers in the UK.

    I have never met a farmer that has said their animals are pets but every farmer I have met knows well that you only get out of your animals what you put into them! I would also ask you the same question that I ask the last person who moaned about farmers (and I am still waiting for their response)
    You may already have read this, though I don’t think so.

    Can I ask how you would feel if someone drove a vehicle through your garden tearing up the plants, knocking over trees and shrubs also stealing money from your bank account? Would you not want to be compensated for the damage done? As this is effectively happens when dogs worry sheep, particularly when they are in lamb. Or would just think well all the plants and shrubs will be dead come winter anyway and I would have only spent that money? Somehow I think not!

    I also await your answer to this question…

    So what if they care about money. How does that make them different from the rest of the population? Also if you don’t care about money, which I take it from your statement you don’t, can I have all yours then?

    I find your statement that “They can’t give a monkeys about the welfare of their livestock,” interesting. What evidence you have that proves farmers are incapable of feeling this emotion!

    On the issue of puppy farming if you really do have evidence of illegal activity then take it to the authorities as there are enough dogs in rescue centres as it is.

    Personally I find people who hold views similar to those you express totally despicable, small minded and pathetic and I too know this from experience.

  77. Anonymous Says:

    I have to agree totally with Jennie’s comments above. Farmers are not animal lovers. You think your so self righteous. You think you have the right to play God – you don’t. What you are doing is killing in cold blood and as the saying goes – what goes around comes around – threefold so think you should all start praying as for when the time comes – you will ALL be punished. Whether human or animal we are all part of God and you have no right to take that life!!!!

  78. Shazzy Says:

    Can anyone one help me out with the legal standing on the following. If you are walking around a woods owned by the forestry commission and sheep from nearby fields have escaped, and your dog takes off after them, what can be the outcome? Can the farmer shoot the dog or not?

  79. Sally Says:

    Hi Shazzy

    I’m afraid I’m not a lawyer so can’t give a definitive answer. If I were in this position I would start by contacting the forestry commission to see if the farmer has some rights to graze his sheep on their land .. if this was the case I would expect some signs to be up saying to keep dogs on leads. As far as I am aware (again, I am not a lawyer so this is only my opinion) under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 the right to shoot a dog worrying sheep is restricted to agricultural land, which I would interpret to mean land owned or rented by the farmer for the purpose of farming and would therefore not include land the sheep have wandered on to. However, in moors areas farmers often have the right to graze livestock on public land … so tricky one and each case should be checked out first if you walk your dog there regularly.

  80. Phil (1 comments.) Says:

    I have been following this debate pretty much from the start, and it has been really interesting seeing the different points of view.

    It seems such a hard topic to strike a compromise – if a farmer has a dog causing damage to his flock, unless the owner is around, his only alternative to prevent further loss is to shoot the dog (I am not sure I agree with the previous commenter about tranqualisers – nice idea but not very practical).

    However accidents do happen, even with the most sensible of dog owners – I would rather reimburse a farmers for his entire flock, than have my dog shot.

    I guess in an ideal world if a) all dogs owners were responsible and always had their dog on a lead in the vicinity of sheep and b) all farmers only used a gun as an ultimate last resort (if the loss was likely to be high and there was no owner present at all) then the number of sheep attacks would significantly decrease, the number of dogs shot would be minimal and people would have a better opinion of farmers (and in fact dog owners)

    Sadly however, as “Anonymous” has clearly demonstrated above – we don’t live in a ideal world, but a world filled with idiots and selfish people blinkered with their own views and opinions.
    Phil´s last blog .. My ComLuv Profile

  81. Sally Says:

    Hi Anonymous

    You don’t say which religion you adhere to, so I will try to cover the most popular religions:

    1. Judaism – Kashrut – these are the Jewish dietary laws. Deuteronomy 12:21 states The mammals and birds that may be eaten must be slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law (making the meat kosher). As these laws were given by God it seems highly unlikely that God would then punish people for following HIS laws.

    2. Christianity – Luke 22:8-15 clearly shows Jesus used to eat lamb .. no big surprise considering he was born Jewish and therefore followed the laws stated in 1. above. As Christians believe he was the son of God one would assume he would know what was sinful or not and as he ate fish and meat it sounds doubtful that he will be punished for doing so.

    3. Islam – they can only eat halal meat or if no halal meat is available they can eat kosher meat (see 1. above). Again, given that these laws were given by God Himself it would appear to be an oxymoron to suggest He would punish people for following them.

    4. Hindu – Followers are split between vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Those who do eat meat eat jhatka meat. I believe there are also Vedic rituals where goats are strangled to death as a form of sacrifice.

    5. Sikhs – In the official Khalsa Code of Conduct, Sikhs are recommended to eat jhatka meat. Again, this refers to the method of slaughter.

    6. Buddhism – “As recorded in the Pali scriptures, the Buddha did not prohibit consumption of meat, even by monks. In fact, he explicitly rejected a suggestion from Devadatta to do so.” (taken from a Buddhist website). There are many places in the Buddhist scriptures which tell of the Buddha and his monks being offered meat and eating it. One of the most interesting of these passages occurs in the introductory story to a totally unrelated rule (Nissaggiya Pacittiya 5) and the observation that the meat is purely incidental to the main theme of the story emphasizes the authenticity of the passage: you can read the whole passage here here

    So all I can say is you should perhaps spend a little less time telling God who He intends to punish and a little more time learning about religious beliefs and laws.

    My apologies to any religious follower if I have mispelt or misrepresented your particular faith.

  82. Sally Says:

    Hi Phil

    Agreed we don’t live in an ideal world unfortunately. As a dog owner and lover I know why you would rather pay for an entire flock than have your dog shot but as I have cared for a flock of sheep I also understand why a farmer would often rather shoot a dog than have to rebuild his entire flock. It is not simply a case of nipping down the market and buying in 200 sheep I’m afraid.

    For anyone following this debate I read an interesting article on the behaviour of dogs around sheep today … you can read it here. It is written by Angela Stockdale who is a dog aggression specialist.

  83. Matthew Says:

    To yet another Anonymous.

    Firstly your statement that farmers are not animal lovers in blatantly untrue.

    On the subject of not having to take life, what will be the penalty for the irresponsible dog owners who allow their pets to take the lives of livestock?

  84. Shazzy Says:

    HI Sally,
    Thanks for you comment above, I was really concerned yesterday after my 22month labrador took off after a few sheep that had strayed onto the forestry, I am aware that there are sheep in fields set away from the forestry, but certainly wasn’t expecting to see them as we came around a bend and had no chance to call my dog in before she took off after them. She was oblivious to my shouts and whistles and had visions of her meeting an angry farmer and meeting a untimely end to her life. I will certainly check with the forestry commission, as there are no signs up stating that sheep maybe present and to keep dogs on leads which I always do around any sort of livestock. Once again thankyou

  85. Matthew Says:

    It is nice to see a sensible opinion being expressed.

    The only problem with what you have to say is that we do not in an ideal world. A sheep farmer friend told me that just last week a couple walked through her field of ewes and lambs with a dog off the lead, despite bright yellow signs asking all owners to put dogs on a lead (thankfully nothing happened). I believe that while owners such as these are around the problem will continue as ignoring the advice of farmers and common sense will only increase the likelihood of unfortunate accidents. These incidents could all be avoided in my opinion by people using a bit of common sense, but it’s amazing how uncommon common sense is!

  86. Sally Says:

    Hi Shazzy

    Have a quick read of the link I gave a couple of comments up, it really sheds light on the behaviour of dogs and why they have oblivious moments.

    A second thought on your situation is that the forestry commission should be made aware because if the sheep have wandered in there by accident they need to contact the farmer to come and retrieve his sheep.

    Would be very grateful if you could pop back and tell us what the forestry commission has to say (eg is any of their land used for farming). Thanks.

  87. Shazzy Says:

    Hi Sally,

    Just had a reply from the forestry commission regarding the sheep issue on their land, there is no agreement with the farmers that sheep can graze on their land. It is a common problem apparently, and they have a shepherd contracted to impound sheep where appropriate. They have said they will contact neighbouring farmers to see if they have escaped via a broken fence or similar. However, I still worry of the consequences if we stumble across them again.

  88. Sally Says:

    Hi Shazzy

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Any farmer with a gun licence will be perfectly aware they can’t go around shooting anything willy nilly. They can only shoot a dog on their own land (or land they are working). I doubt any farmer would be stupid enough to shoot at your dog on land his sheep should not be grazing on, he would be prosecuted and probably lose his gun licence .. and anyone with a licence will be perfectly aware of this.

  89. Shazzy Says:

    Hi Sally

    Awww…. Thankyou ever so much for your advice, that really does take the worry away. I am hoping that she will improve as she gets older and hopefully, I can get some help, to get her accustom to them.
    Once again thank you ever so much for all your help I will keep you posted of anything further.

  90. Sally Says:

    You are more than welcome Shazzy. Why not contact a local farmer and see if you can do some socialisation training with your dog and his sheep later in the summer. Best of luck.

  91. Norwalk Says:

    I really don’t know where to start with all this…!
    Came across this thread from a question asked elsewhere. What I have read scares the pants off me!
    I cannot believe there are so many people out there who have so little knowledge of the countryside and animal welfare, and yet feel it is their god-given right to tramp right through it whenever they please causing mayhem…
    I have sheep, horses and lurchers. My lurchers are stock-proof, they have to be and are trained as pups to be so. I will still be careful with them around newborn damp lambs, because these smell so much more interesting to them! also, my sheep know my dogs – mine can blast round the fields at 30mph playing and the ewes won’t even lift their heads from grazing, but a strange dog will make them panic.
    There have been many disparaging and totally innaccurate comments about the farmers. (mainly it would seem from vegetarians, incidentally) these highlight the lack of peoples education in how the industry works. I have just lost a ewe who has bred us good lambs for 8 years – her offspring all carry her characteristics and some have been sold on for breeding across the country, others retained in our flock ( and yes, some of the tup lambs which didn’t make the grade for breeding from have gone our freezer!).
    I have also fostered lurchers for a rescue. one in particular I worked really hard to stock-proof. She showed no interest in the sheep on a lead after her first introduction (and a firm word!), but then proved the sneakiness off dogs… I walked her past a couple of older non-flighty ewes (prior to tupping) on a lead and she wouldn’t look at them. as soon as we got level she turned and darted and got one by the throat! Luckily no harm done except a bit of wool missing (Difference is – its my sheep, my risk, and my responsibilty ).
    I find the various comments about working dogs very insulting! I admit mine are pets, but again the comments show no understanding of how a dog should actually live !
    I have never seen a working dog obese through being pampered
    Riddled with allergies from household products
    Climbing the walls because it’s shut in all day while it’s “loving owner” is at work
    What I have seen is dogs that are well trained, fit, true to their type, and more importantly not just loved but RESPECTED – how many pets can say that!
    I had better leave that there because I could fill another 10 pages as I feel so strongly about this!

  92. A dog lover Says:


    Actually if you take the time to study and understand these bibles/reglions that you ‘confidently’ refer to you will note that God allows the slaughter of animals only as a sacrifice to him and for the sole use of sustaining human life (in that an animal should be killed to provide the exact amount of food to satisfy the needs of the body to sustain itself) and NOT the mass slaughterof animals to sit in supermarket freezers/fridges and then being thrown out as waste. This still does not provide people with the right to decide the life and death of other animals, hence, it does not allow a ‘Farmer’ to go around shooting dogs just to touch up on their target practice.

    So Sally, I am not in a position to ‘tell God who to punish’ as he is certainly more than capable of doing this Himself.

    I am not going to spend any more time on this discussion as you clearly do not know anything about Reglion and do not wish to waste any more of my time.

  93. Sally Says:

    Hi A Dog Lover

    What you said was “What you are doing is killing in cold blood and as the saying goes – what goes around comes around” and then said “you will ALL be punished” … that is you telling us who God is going to punish.

    Killing as a sacrifice to God is, by definition, killing in cold blood and killing “to provide the exact amount of food to satisfy the needs of the body to sustain itself” is also killing in cold blood.

    Each person has to make the choice of whether they want to eat meat and if so how much they want to eat or feel is sufficient to sustain themselves.

    Your next comment states “a ‘Farmer’ to go around shooting dogs just to touch up on their target practice.” shows a distinct lack of knowledge of the law and of farming life.

    As for my religious beliefs, I am a fervent believer in my faith and have spent many years studying it. Given your comments I will assume you are Christian (my apologies if this assumption is incorrect) but if you are I suggest you read the following passages of the Bible:

    Genesis 9:3-4

    Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

    Romans 14:5-6

    One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

    In order for these passages to hold true there have to be farmers and butchers and animals have to be slaughtered in order for people to eat meat.

  94. Matthew Says:

    A dog lover.
    It was me that asked about the punishment of dog owners. On that point you say that you are not able to tell God who to punish, yet you seem all too quick to say that farmers should be punished for taking the life of a dog yet you make no mention of dog owners who to a greater or lesser extent allow their dogs to kill sheep.

    Having read through your comments I would like to know why in your interpretation of God’s word, “it does not allow a ‘Farmer’ to go around shooting dogs just to touch up on their target practice.” “Whether human or animal we are all part of God and you have no right to take that life!!!!”, a farmer is not allowed to protect his flock, yet a dog owner is allowed or excused from his or her part in allowing their pet to take a life in cold blood? I am certain that the vast majority of dog attacks are done by dogs that are not killing to sustain their own life.

    Your lack of knowledge about the law (of the land) governing the shooting of dogs and the countryside is very disturbing. A farmer (or someone with their implied or expressed permission) should only use a firearm when all other reasonable attempts have been made to stop the attack. So farmers waiting around to shoot at dogs is against the law (also farmers are far too busy), if you look at my previous post you will see a case in point. A farmer in Warwickshire would wait till dog walkers came on to his land on a public footpath and shoot at the dog’s whether they were under control or not. The dogs were between a wall and a fence. This can hardly be described as exhausting all reasonable steps, not to mention the public endangerment issue! Thankfully this person will never be allowed guns again! It is actually an offence for a person to allow a dog in their possession to worry live stock on agricultural land.
    Your point about target practice is so inaccurate that it is not even funny. From my experience dog attacks are rare, though not rare enough, practice requires repartition in order to improve. That is why anyone who wants to improve their shooting goes to either a target range or a clay pigeon shooting ground.

    I wait your answers to my questions

  95. Lakeslass Says:

    I came across this site as, like many others before, because I experienced a very distressing situation at the weekend.

    I have a 4 year old whippet called Archie and as with most dogs, is the paragon of virtue and well behaved most of the time. However, a delivery man left a gate open and he escaped from my house. Trying to catch something that runs like the speed of sound is simply not possible and the consequence was that he found his way to the field beyond the woods behind us. Whilst he didn’t physically touch the sheep, it was nevertheless an extremely traumatic incident as he chased them. I have never trusted him around livestock just because he is a sight hound and unless you bring your animal up in that environment, it’s too risky. I think Norwalk makes that point most excellently in the comments above.

    The situation for me now is that I simply cannot leave to chance any possibility that he will do this again if anyone should ever leave a gate open. I was interested in the dog behaviourist link above and it makes excellent reading, particularly around the whole issue of natural instincts.

    I decided to research someone closer to home for me here in Cumbria and I found an excellent trainer who I think can help. Her name is Ingrid Grayling and her testimonials read well. I shall be ensuring that he undergoes some serious training as I fully accept that this is my responsibility to control my dog. I support all the comments made by farmers and responsible dog owners on here. If we want to have the pleasure of the wonderful countryside we live in then we also need to ensure that our dogs don’t endanger the health of flocks and the livelihoods of farmers who allow access over their land.

    I for one feel deeply saddened by the incident I experienced and hope that other dog owners might find the information about Ingrid helpful too. I shall report back on here on after the training.

  96. Sally Says:

    Hi Lakeslass

    Would love to know how things go with Ingrid, as this may encourage other dog owners to use a rural dog trainer to avoid such stress.

    Well done for taking responsibility and doing something about it, give yourself a big pat on the back.

  97. Margaret from Celtic-Jewellery (6 comments.) Says:

    Wow – what a discussion.

    We were brought up on a farm in Galloway; my parents’ place was a couple of miles outside town and didn’t really have much trouble with dogs (my father didn’t often have sheep, he did keep dairy cows.)

    My two maiden aunts lived on a small holding at the edge of a town. They kept sheep – and some beef cattle. This was their sole income – and they depended on a good annual “crop” to keep them in their home, put food on the table, pay their bills. They were self sufficient; never rich.

    My aunts had a system for various stages of the farming year. During lambing time, the sheep were kept in the field beside the house. My aunts used to check the field several times a day to see how many new lambs were there and whether or not there was a sheep needing help with the lambing. New arrivals were carefully noted; if there was a dead lamb, it was dealt with; if there was a sheep who refused to mother her lamb, my aunts would find a surrogate mother to feed the new lamb (sometimes a really difficult task!) They gave the new lambs (expensive) inoculations against Pulpy Kidney disease; docked tails; trimmed feet, did some of the clipping; cleaned and rolled fleeces and sold them; took the sheep to market.

    The downside of using this field for the lambing was that it was next to the railway line and across the line were houses; nice neighbours; nice dogs. However, there were many occasions when dogs were “put out” into someone’s back garden and which then found their way across the railway line and into the field. Dogs are pack animals; I amn’t aware of training of dogs en masse which would deter them from acting as a pack – although I could be wrong in this. There were some losses – and they are very distressing.

    My aunts loved their animals; they had names for each sheep – blackface ewes are particular recognisable and they only had 60 or so. They could tell you at a glance that This was Mafalda and she had had twins for the last 3/4 years – or that sheep was Beatrice and she had ignored her first lamb and that they didn’t think she would ever be a good mother. They also had a collie dog who was most definitely a family pet, along with a bundle of fur (a wee Pekinese) with a most attractive personality.

    You will find that most livestock farmers love their animals. They may try not to become “attached” to them because they know they are being bred for food – but that doesn’t stop the love. You only need to think of the distress of the farmers when the foot and mouth epidemic was discovered to know that livestock farmers invest time, money and their souls into a business which is a way of life.

    Please respect the countryside, the farmers and their livestock; I don’t believe that livestock farmers are bloodthirsty devils just waiting to shoot dogs (it costs too much ;-) ) – they just want the freedom to farm and produce vital foodstuff for the market.


  98. Sally Says:

    Hi Margaret

    Thanks for your comments and your Aunt’s sound like amazing women. I know a farmer with 1400 sheep and while he doesn’t name them all he can take you round his stock and tell you which ones are good lambers, which always have twins and point out the ones who usually need to be kept close during lambing because of complications.

    Unfortunately unless people spend time on or near a farm they have some very strange ideas of what farming is about and of course the few horror stories that do make the press do not help.

  99. Lottie Says:

    I live in a very rural area with one road in and same road out of village. Single track. Lamb had got out of sheep field, into pony paddock and then on road through open gate. Walking my pet dogs they saw and chased the lamb into the pony paddock and possibly mauled it although it could have got its injuries by struggling through fence back into sheep field.. It had to go to vets for treatment. I am sick to my stomach about it as owner said the lamb had been “ripped to pieces”. I t was injured but not fatally.
    She has given me the vets bill. Are we both responsible. The farmer for not ensuring the lamb not on the public highway and me for allowing my dogs to chase it back through open gate into field.

  100. Margaret from Celtic-Jewellery (6 comments.) Says:

    What a difficult question; there isn’t a fence yet that is totally stock-proof. I have seen a sheep “climb” a dry-stone wall that was almost 6ft high in an effort to escape being put into a pen; on more than one occasion, I might add. In a particularly rural area, I think you should expect to find sheep, lambs and other domestic animals on the road …

    We often found animals wandering on the highway and, assuming we could figure out whose it was, we always tried to return it home. The alternative was (and may still be) to call the police because there is a road-safety issue as well. Cars versus animals can make a horrible mess.

    Why don’t you contact the citizens’ advice bureau in the first instance – they should be able to give you some idea of how to treat this.

  101. Sally Says:

    Hi Lottie

    I think phoning the citizens advice or a solicitor is a good idea. I have no legal background but my view is whether your dogs were under close control (ie when they chased the lamb and you called them to heal did they respond or “go deaf” and chase). Of course the lamb should not have been on the road but if your dogs entered private property to chase it then this muddies the water.

    Does the farmer own the pony paddock? If no and I were in this situation I would offer to pay half of the bill as both the lamb and dogs were not on their own land. If the farmer does own the pony paddock then I would feel responsible because my dogs should not have entered his/her property.

    The vet should be able to tell you if the injuries to the lamb are consistent with tearing (ie a wire fence) or teeth marks.

  102. Marion Says:

    Hi wanted to leave a comment regarding the above. Legally your dog can be classed as “out of control” anywhere. I know of a woman who was formally cautioned by the police after her greyhound killed her neighbours cat when the cat jumped into the dog owners garden. Therefore I suspect you are liable for the bill if the vet is able to verify the wounds were due to bite wounds (sometimes easier said than done as both teeth and wire can cause tearing as the predominant wound)

    I also have a question of my own. My husband is currently waiting for the vet and the police to turn up as he had captured a dog killing the sheep he is responsible for. It has killed 2 lambs today and injured several others. A few weeks ago 3 lambs were killed and a ewe injured and in November 3 hoggs were injured and had to be destroyed as they failed to respond to treatment. Anyone know if we are legally allowed to get the vet to destroy this dog. The injuries sustained by the lambs in the previous attack were horrific their skulls were crushed.

    As for the previous comments by people saying that farmers don’t care about their sheep. They should see my husband during lambing time when he is working 120 hour weeks for 2 months to keep as many of them alive and healthy as possible for a wage of £1500 a month. Do the maths, the hourly rate is so far below minimum wage it is a joke. In it for the money is he?????????

  103. Sally Says:

    Hi Marion

    My understanding of the law (although you need to check this with someone legally trained) is if your husband has a firearms licence he can shoot the dog while it is attacking the sheep. If the dog has been captured, as you say in your comments, then the dog must be handed over to the police and it is their decision whether to have the dog destroyed. I would imagine the police would first try to contact the owners of the dog, if they can be found, which of course would make them financially responsible for the losses and woul;d be legally obliged to ensure the dog does not get out on it’s own again.

    Is your husband sure it is the same dog in each attack? I imagine the police would want to establish if this is a one off attack by an escaped pet. If he is sure, having seen the same dog each time then I would certainly asking the police to have the dog destroyed, as it’s clear the dog is a danger to livestock and the owners do not take enough care to stop the dog escaping.

  104. Marion Says:

    We cannot be 100% sure it is the same dog as this is the first time it has been witnessed for sure. Back in first attack we were told a brown dog was seen worrying the sheep but that is not enough of a positive ID. The attcks have been consistently in the same field and have centred on the head. Again we have crushed skulls today. This time in 25kg lambs – no mean feat for any dog.
    The vet has euthanased the dog as he took the view it was a dangerous dog.

  105. Matthew Says:

    Hi Marion

    The main body of your message makes for sad reading!

    As you have managed to catch the dog the decision as to whether to destroy it now lies with the Police. I hope that your situation will be sorted swiftly so that you can get on with you farming and re building your life.

    The main reason for my post is that your first point is incorrect. The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 section 1, subsection 3 provides a specific caveat for situations where the livestock are trespassing on the dog owners land. In relation to cats the following link is amazingly vague as to attacks in the dogs own garden. As the owner of a Saluki that would kill a cat as soon as look at it I have taken reasonable steps to keep cats out of our garden and i have it from a Justice of the Peace that as long as the dog is on its property then no crime is committed. However this being said that does not mean that the Police are aware of the details of the law (believe me the Police do make mistakes). In addition the Police (in my experience) have a habit of suggesting that people take cautions instead of going to court. Sadly the person you mention has already admitted their gilt (which is all a caution proves) my advice would have been to get legal advice before accepting one.

  106. Sally Says:

    Hi Marion

    Thanks for letting us know what happened. It’s a shame for the dog but once they have the taste of blood it would keep coming back and, as you say, crushing skulls is no mean feat. I hope the dog was chipped and the owners are held accountable for the dead sheep and the destroyed dog.

  107. Marion Says:

    Statement been given to the police and they are not sure that correct procedure was followed so the story may not be over yet. If there are problems it will be the vet deemed to be at fault which was never the intention.
    As for the cat incident there are various pieces of legislation that police can choose to use. In that particular instance they used dangerous dog rule (correctly or otherwise) taking the view that if a dog kills it is a fault no matter where the incident happened.

  108. Sally Says:

    Hi Marion

    Did you take the dog to the vet to be destroyed or did the police?

  109. Marion Says:

    The vet came out to the farm to euthanase 3 surviving (sort of) lambs and euthanased the dog while there. The police turned up about 2 hours later to take statements. Turns out this was a cared for pet who had a tendancy to escape. He had come from a rescue centre last year. Did he perhaps have prior history which was not passed on when he was rehomed???

  110. Sally Says:

    Hi Marion

    I hope things settle down now on the farm, a nasty experience for everyone. That’s the problem with rescue dogs (all of our dogs are from rescue centres), you just never know what problems they have. Such a shame for the dog but anything that crushes skulls has a serious problem.

  111. Marion Says:

    We haven’t found any more casualties thankfully and the police decided that the correct action was taken. They took the view that something else eg a child on a bike could trigger the dog’s instinct and they were not prepared to have that come back to haunt them later…. Owners have been very reasonable about it thankfully and agreed with action taken.

  112. Sally Says:

    That is a good reation from the dogs owners … I hope they will be so reasonable when they get the bill.

  113. julian Says:

    well I think your all sheep biased!!!!
    I however hate sheep. I live in Wales and they’re everywhere.
    They are stupid animals that cause damage to gardens, cause traffic accidents, they crap everywhere..which as it happens carries disease. They wander around parks where there are children and dogs like they own the place.
    They should be fenced in properly and if their not the farmer shouldnt have any rights and I should have the right to sue the farmer for not controlling and cleaning up after his animals and restricting my freedom..rant over…..

  114. Sally Says:

    Hi Julian

    I agree that sheep should be fenced in, I live in Cumbria and have the same kind of problems with sheep walking in the road when you you drive round a bend .. it can be very dangerous. It’s only really the top fells where they can roam freely and it’s only walkers that go up there but it’s the price we pay for living in such glorious countryside.

    What we are talking about here are dog owners who go onto or near farming land and allow their dogs to go onto his land worry the sheep. Surely you don’t think this should be allowed?

  115. Matthew Says:


    I think that you have some valid points about the control of sheep in certain parts of the UK. I would be interested to know if in the parks in Wales where you are do they police the dog fouling laws as to make dog owners clear up and leave sheep to mess freely would be a bit silly. I like the idea of fining the sheep owners for the mess they make, can we apply the same to horse owners who let their mounts crap in the public highway?

    But I think you are missing a crucial point. How would you feel if someone deliberatly destroyed something that you use to make your living???

  116. Matthew Says:


    Straying off the subject of dogs attacking sheep, i was talking to my sheep farming friend last Saturday and she told me that she lost ewe that week during shearing (the animal liturally died in the shearer’s arms).

    She is convinced that this was braught about by a hot air ballon landing in the adjasent field to the sheep less then 48 hours earlier. The ballon landed in an 11 acre field while the sheep were in the next field 8 acre.

    Have you ever heard of this sort of thing before?

  117. Sally Says:

    Hi Matthew

    Sounds highly unlikely, much more likely to be a heart attack. We had ours sheared about 2 weeks ago and as they were shearing a very fat ewe we were just waiting for her to drop down dead … she didn’t I’m pleased to say. Could simply be the stress of the shearing bringing on a heart attack, some sheep get so frightened and strain themselves trying to get away.

  118. Matthew Says:

    Hi Sally

    Yes the animal actually did show all the signs of a heart attack, but my friend has never in the last 15 years of farming lost one like this. Is it not true that sheep (and other heard animals) are terified by things above their heads?

    Reports from her landlord say that the sheep were pressed in a tight huddel in the far corner of the field (thankfully no lambs were trampled) until the pilot got in his ballon and cleared off.

  119. Sally Says:

    Hi Matthew

    Sheep are terrified of just about anything, so a hot air balloon would do the trick but I don’t think this caused the death because 48 hours had passed. I’ve never had a sheep heart attack at shearing but have heard of it.

  120. sheep dog owner Says:

    farmers are living in the past…….they are not the only ones with guns ?

  121. David Says:

    I have only just come across this site. Two of our Cattle Dog’s, were lost in
    the snow storm earlier this year. I did the right think and drove round and told
    our neighbours, both dog’s were lost and reassured them both were stock proof.
    One neighbour with another in tow went out,, hunting my dog’s and shot them
    dead. They hid their bodies, did not report their actions to the Police which is
    required under law. We got tipped off confronted this so called farmer, who
    denied the killings admitted to the killings, saying the dog’s had been
    worrying, then threatened to shoot us. The Police did NOTHING. If the dog’s had
    been worrying (yet both were trained with stock) where was the proof? The dead
    sheep, the injured sheep, the vet’s reports, the logging the incident with the
    Police? He knew who’s dog’s they were, he knew I was out looking, yet he chose
    to hid and cover his crime up? As for Farmers working hard and hardly earning a
    penny, some do BUT sheep farmers spend most of their time filling subsidy forms
    in to get themselves a new Land Rover every other year. Whilst those Farmers
    like ourselves who have cut the middle man out and gone it alone are hated by
    the idle ones who do nothing but moan about prices yet refuse to do anything
    about their situation. Claiming subsidies is no different to claiming dole
    money. it all comes out of the same pot.

  122. Sally Says:

    Hi David

    Why are you not bringing a civil law suit against them? Just because farmers are permitted by law to shoot dogs in extreme circumstances it doesn’t mean they can just wander around shooting dogs for sport or because there feels there “may” be a danger. People have to take a stand against such incidents or farmers like these will become a law unto themselves and make life very difficult for everyone else in the farming community.

  123. david (1 comments.) Says:

    We are taking Civil Action and we at the moment collecting more evidence against this person. Because of the Police sweeping this under the carpet, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has ‘upheld’ our appeal. They did not even record any of the above as a ‘crime’ It has totally destroyed my wife what this evil person has done. We had never done him any harm, indeed had never had any dealings with him up until all this happened. He also refused to give us the dog’s bodies back for burial on our farm. in the end a decent neighbour who was sickened at what the evil person had done, demanded the return to his farm our dog’s bodies. I collected the bodies and was heart broken at the mess I was looking at. Both dog’s are now buried on our farm. He went out for the pure thrill of the hunt and even more excited over the sheer size of the dog’s when he killed them. He actually called them over with a sheep whistle to which he knew they was trained to. He often made fun (this we found out later off the decent farmers) of the dog’s working the Cow’s and even more so of our Cheese Making business. He was also heared in a pub of ‘wishing he had cut their heads off to stick on the barn door’ There where no dead or injured sheep, if there was, why did he try his best to cover the killings? He knew who’s dog’s they belonged to, he knew that we are decent people and would have accepted what had happened and would have compensated him IF he could have shown proof. He did not inform the Police of the killing’s of the dog’s, neither did he inform them of dead, or injured animals. What he did do was to hide what he had done, because there were no dead or injured animals. The only reason for this course of action was the FACT the dog’s were NOT stock worriers. The most sickening thing was is that the Police deem him fit to have weapons. 78 years old, bad hearing, bad eyesight and disabled with a history of killing under the guise of sheep worrying. He shot a dog two years ago on a main road. was witnessed by a member of the public. Under Criminal law, because this person did not see him pull the trigger, he walked and got his gun’s back. The Sgt who was supposed to investigate all this is protecting this individual ABOVE the rights of the general public. A Police conviction would see his weapons taken away from him and thus prevent him ‘stepping’ over the line and taking a human life. What is the difference if you have bad eyesight, bad hearing a job to walk between seeing a child playing in the heather and moorlands or ‘could be a dog? Then ‘bang’ no turning back then and a human life is lost

  124. Gary Says:

    Hi All,

    I live on a farm (not a working one anymore) and have three dogs. One of the dogs is a nightmare and continually escapes, even though we have had a dog run built which cost us over £1200! The fields surrounding our land have livestock on and when the dog does escape she chases the sheep. Now I’m aware that the farmer may shoot her, but what is annoying me is that I want to try and get her rehomed and none of the dogs homes or RSPCA will take her off me.

    It;s not that we havent tried, we have gone to extrordinary lengths to solev the problem but to no avail. She now has started chewing through the wire fencing escaping killing rabbits, birds abd even barkin frantically at people walking down the road. I’m afraid she has the taste for killing and my woife is very worried about her eventually biting someone or heaven forbid a child!

    Any advice would greatly appreciated?

  125. Sally Says:

    Hi Gary

    Am sending this to my friend, a dog trainer, for an answer. My thought is once they have the taste for chasing and killing they will always have it and it often gets worse but let’s wait for an expert opinion.

    As a last resort have you tried an electric collar? Sounds cruel but we had a nightmare case and hired such a collar and it worked in a day or two. You feel very mean when you zap them but the dog never tried to escape after that and it’s got to be better than being run over or shot.

  126. Sally Says:

    Hi David

    Best of luck with the civil suit and please let us know how it goes. Such people give farmers a bad name and should be brought into line or stopped.

  127. Sally Says:

    Hi Gary

    This is the reply:

    Can’t say without knowing the age of the dog and assessing her behaviour patterns and triggers.

    Think if she was mine I’d be giving her some sort of calmer while I worked on getting to the root of her problem. The dog needs to be assessed for a clean bill of health and then by a dog trainer. You could try and getting a trainer out to visit would tell you if she’s trainable or not. Plus they do a lifetime guarantee where if after the training programme the problem is still happening they guarantee to work with the dog for as long as it takes to solve the problem at no extra cost. Or a phonecall to your vet asking if they could recommend a visiting trainer and what they would suggest in the way of a mild sedative to calm her down.

    If you look at they say that if you use a qualified trainer and your dog is insured, you can claim back the training fees.

  128. julian Says:

    Although I agree if dogs are on known farm land worrying sheep and livestock is damaged as a direct result (which should be proven by vetinary report) only then should action be taken.
    I do not agree with the fact that farmers have the right to shoot the animal,the owner responsible should be made to pay for the damage caused and it should be left to the police to decide whether the dog is a danger or not.
    I have a friend whos old jack russell was in the garden of their house and a farmer came and shot the dog without warning because he had seen a similar dog worrying his sheep, with no proof at all the police were then called and did nothing saying it was the farmers right. There was no way it could have been their dog because it doesnt leave the property without them. How can this be legal?
    If I owned a butchers shop and a dog came in and ate my entire display could I shoot it?..No didnt think so..but it is the same principle.
    Farmers are no more important than anyone else earning a living and the law needs to change.

  129. Sally Says:

    Hi Julian

    I wonder whether you would go to watch an organised dog fight where one of the dogs was muzzled? This is what you are asking farmers to do, stand and watch a dog killing livestock and then pick up the pieces afterward. It’s a nonesense I’m afraid and I would be astonished if you said you would find such a dog fight something you could simply stand and watch.

    Your analogy of a dog coming into a butchers shop falls way foul of the mark I’m afraid, there is a huge difference between a dog stealing dead meat and a dog ripping the face off a pregnant ewe. Yes profit is involved in both scenarios but one would require you standing watching a crazed dog killing other animals and the other a dog chomping on a pork shop … I think you would have to agree there is a considerable difference.

    I’m not sure which part(s) of the jack russell story you are getting from where but if the police said the farmer had the legal right to shoot a dog which was not worrying sheep at the time and not even on his land at the time then your friend needs to sue the police as this is totally outside of the law as it stands. As the law stands, in my understanding, the farmers legal rights are there to allow him to protect his livestock, that means the dog(s) have to be an imminent threat to the lives or wellbeing of the livestock (ie attacking the livestock or running toward/around the livestock without an owner bringing them into close control). If a dog worries sheep and then returns home the most a farmer could do, I believe, is to sue the owner and ask the police to destroy the dog, which would be a joint decision usually between the police and a vet (ie if they deem the dog to be a continued danger to livestock).

    I’m afraid you can’t say a dog never leaves the home so can’t have done this, as it is often escapee’s who worry sheep. Dogs which are not regularly socialised to other animals and escape from home often just want to chase the sheep but when the sheep run the dogs instincts kick in and the game turns serious. It’s a shame but it does happen.

  130. Matthew Says:

    Put yourself in the shoes of the farmer, could you stand there and watch a dog kill or injure your entire flock of sheep? A flock that you have put many hours of work and money somehow I don’t think so!

    If farmers did not have the right to protect their animals and the dog was allowed to kill till it got board do you have any idea how much the bill could come to? A friend of mine is selling ½ a lamb for £60 – work that out over a flock over 100 head strong.

    As for your story about the Jack Russel if it is as you say the Police were wrong. The law allows farmers (or representatives) to shoot dog only as a last resort and only when the behaviour of the dog can be reasonably expected to cause injury or death or whilst in the act of.

    Your analogy is somewhat in relevance, as it is quite easy to protect dead meat from a dog as the dead meat will not run away. Also if you were to shoot a dog in your butchers shop you can expect to be charged with Firearms offence of endangering public safety!!

  131. julian Says:

    The only difference in your depiction and mine are that you are assuming that I must have violent tendencies for suggesting that farmers should only have the same rights as everyone else
    Sheep should be better protected and kept inside or supervised (we do have cameras now) if they are valued so much.
    I do not condone dog fighting sally that is an awful thing to say and not the same thing at all one is human sport and the other is nature irrelevant whether we like it!!!!
    Of all the dogs that are shot by farmers I bet half of those were not actually attacking at the time, if a dog is crazed and out of control obviously it should be shot,
    but crazed out of control dogs are not that common or we would all be living in fear.

    As for farmers do it for the love what a pile of steaming….You dont slaughter things you love, profit is profit no matter how you dress it up whether its taken to the local meat factory or bought from the meat factory.

    my point of a dog in a butchers is relevant to the point that it all revolves around money and a butcher would like to shoot the dog but is unable so what gives a farmer this right?

    I have stated facts not chinese whispers, the jack
    russel in question couldnt sniff his bum without falling over never mind chase sheep, as it was already dead by the time the police arrived it was the farmers word against my friends and as for taking it to court is there a fund that would cover the costs…no didnt think so.

  132. Sally Says:

    Hi Julian

    Actually I was assuming that you do not have violent tendancies and would therefore see the difference between an animal attacking another live animal and an animal attacking a piece of dead meat … clearly not though.

    Suggesting that all sheep be kept inside just so someone’s pet can go for walkies without being a danger is just not a fair suggestion. If I bring my kids to your place of work or home and they run amok breaking everything or killing your koi carp I bet you would soon hold me responsible, so why should farmers have to put up with this? You also seem to be forgetting that the farmer owns or rents the land for the purpose of farming, not for his neighbours to walk their dogs on.

    People who fight dogs, no matter what I think of them, would no doubt say the dogs are simply acting on nature too.

    Sorry but saying there can’t be many crazed out of control dogs or we would all be living in fear is missing the point. A dog’s instinct is different in relation to humans and sheep. We are predators and sheep are prey, we act like predators therefore dogs react differently to us. This is why we hear from so many astonished dog owners who would never believe in a million years that their pet would attack sheep. Their pet may be brilliant with people and even snuggle the neighbours cat but give them a wide open space and natural prey acting like prey and little Benjie can turn into a savage killer.

    Again your point about the butchers is not relevent. If a dog entered a butchers and started eating a lamb chop I doubt there would be much in the way of screaming, aborted lambs or a ewe slowly dying by being suffocated on her own blood, however this is what happens when a dog attacks a herd of sheep. From a purely profit point of view the ewe may be a great mother from a pedigree herd, you therefore not only lose the ewe but her offspring as well. The farmer may have spent generations forming his herd, so why should he lose that in one go just because someone wants to walk Tinkerbell across his land?

    If you are certain the farmer came to somone’s garden and shot their dog and the police said this was within the law then you should encourage the dog owner to go to the police complaints commission.

  133. Margaret from Celtic-Jewellery (1 comments.) Says:

    Hi, Julian –

    Firstly, I haven’t been back to read much of this thread till this evening, when something you said caught my eye.

    You said -” Sheep should be better protected and kept inside or supervised (we do have cameras now) if they are valued so much.” –

    Unfortunately, although I was from a farming family, I work in retail and don’t have access to fields, sheep and their eccentricities otherwise I would invite you to come and meet the sheep.

    I think the best way to understand how difficult it can be to manage sheep in fields is to work with them. Depending on the breed of the animal (some are much more feisty than others), they are the Houdinis of the animal kingdom.

    Sheep will crawl through holes in fences, they will “climb” or jump over fences; I have seen them scramble over a 5′ high wall and jump down a drop of 8′ or more.

    Suggesting that farmers should supervise them better is a lovely idea but difficult and expensive to put into practice; this is mostly because of the nature of the animal.

    Suggesting that farmers couldn’t possibly love their animals is just wrong. I guess there will be some farmers who just do their job with no real love of the livestock; but I think the overwhelming majority of them are real carers of and providers for their beasts. I don’t know if you ever catch the BBC’s Countryfile programme on a Sunday evening, but I’d recommend it particularly as it features the life on the farm run by Adam Henson. From watching his weekly journal on his farming life, you can get a taster of what it is like to be a farmer and to care for a lot of animals.

    Farmers can be reduced to tears by the sight of the suffering of their animals when they’re attacked by dogs; dogs aren’t the only predators which have sheep in their sights – we recently spent a few days in Mull and were told by one of the local farmers of the devastating effect of the re-introduction of sea eagles into the countryside there. He had a small flock of sheep with approximately 60 lambs early in the year and by the time of taking them to market there were only a handful of the lambs left. At least, though, the eagles had killed their prey and eaten them. Sheep attacked by dogs can be alive and dreadfully wounded; they then either have to be humanely killed (and they may be carrying lambs) or there is an expensive bill from the vet to repair the damage. That’s a cruel fate for any animal to endure but a dog (or pack of dogs) may target many of the sheep, worrying and injuring them.

    Farmers don’t want to go out shooting dogs; this isn’t a sporting activity, a hobby or a “lifestyle choice”. They are protecting their animals (which can’t be trained to attack a dog back or to run for cover when there are predators on the loose – sheep are much too stupid for that). I can assure you that they don’t believe in taking the life of a dog “just because they can”.

    While sheep can be kept indoors at lambing time, they are much less stressed and far healthier when living as nature intended – out in the fresh, open air. As for monitoring them in the fields by camera …. well, not too practical an option, I’m afraid as some farms cover thousands of acres and this would just be unworkable – who would have time to watch the camera output??

    I hope you get the chance to visit a farm and get to know the joys and the problems of the farming lifestyle.


  134. Matthew Says:


    That is a good one “farmers should only have the same rights as everyone else”. They have the right to protect their property the same as everyone else. The only difference is that in certain and LIMITED circumstances they (or their authorised others) are allowed to use lethal methods.

    Keeping sheep inside long-term is uneconomical due to the size of barn needed and cruel to confine a grazing animal to a barn. So would condone that?

    If dogs attacking what they see as prey is irrelevant would you feel the same if what it attacked was your property or even worse your family??? Do you think that people who own dogs do not have a responsibility to make sure their pets are well behaved and under control??? Cause I do and I own a dog, one that is more than happy to chase sheep and I have the right to shoot out of control dogs.

    Can you define what you mean by attacking? As a dog just chasing sheep can kill them particularly when in lamb. Thankfully you are right that attacks are rare as the majority of dog owners are responsible and when near livestock they put their pets on a lead. That is all it takes put your dog on a lead. As Sally points out the farmer is either the land owner or occupier and has the right to use the land, where as the dog walker ONLY has the right to use the public foot paths.

    You should actually try to meet and talk to farmers as you will find that they do care deeply for their animals and work long and hard to ensure they have the best possible life.

    Your comparison to a butcher is only relevant in that both have the right to protect their property but as I have already stated why shooting dogs in a shop is not allowed.

    If your story about the dog is true then the Police and the Farmer have a case to answer. If you are able to prove what you claim then you will also be able to claim the costs that is if the CPS do not want to take the case.

  135. julian Says:

    Sally you obviously havent read what was written I did actually say if the dog is on known farm land then action should be taken, so with your logic in mind when children run riot damaging property I should have the right to shoot them..but in your words I would hold you responsible not the confused do you think children should be shot if they damage goods the same way dogs are shot if they damage farmers goods???
    Margaret believe it or not I agree with the fact that dogs should be on a lead and if they do chase sheep the owner should pay for the damage and if a dog is crazed and out of control it should be shot to stop it.
    All am merely pointing out is that farmers seem to think they are the law and bend it to suit themselves… Matthew I also own a dog which is always on a lead but would love to chase sheep and yes I do think owners have a responsibility which is why the punishment should lie with them not the dog unless the dog is out of control!! If sheep are lambing they definately should be better protected its not just dogs that scare them in one of the previous posts it was a hot air balloon but did the farmer chase the owner and shoot him…It is the same thing its scaring sheep!!!
    Your argument that keeping a grazing animal in a barn is cruel…urm they’re going to die we are going to kill then eat them and their babies didnt realise that was kindness and it doesnt stop dairy or chicken farmers.

  136. Sally Says:

    Hi Julian

    The problem we appear to be having in this discussion is I am talking within the UK law on this subject and you are talking about farmers who go outside that law. Farmers have no legal right to shoot dogs unless they are an imminent danger to their livestock and here we must assume their livestock is on farming land, as the law would not allow a farmer to start firing weapons on common land where members of the public could be freely wandering around. For the law to take effect the dogs must not be under close control (ie the owner, if one is present, cannot immediately call the dog to heel or lie down).

    We also have laws against beating your wife in this country but has it stopped everyone from beating their wife? NO. My point is that I in no way support a farmer who steps outside the law but I do support the law as it exists to give farmers the opportunity to protect their livestock.

    What you said in your first comment was “Although I agree if dogs are on known farm land worrying sheep and livestock is damaged as a direct result (which should be proven by vetinary report) only then should action be taken.”

    In order for this to happen farmers would have to allow dogs to savage their livestock and call for a vet to arrive, this can take between 30 minutes and 6 hours depending on how busy the vet is and how rural your farm is. Better to stop the out of control dog, which is savaging live animals and shoot the dog.

    I’m afraid the “we’re going to kill it and eat it anyway” argument is lost on me … in that case let’s bring back veal crates, live transport without legal requirements for feeding and watering … oh and let’s also test every known chemical on animals “we’re going to kill them anyway”!!! Personally I would prefer to think that animals bred for our food are given a good life until they are sent for slaughter and while I have seen bad farmers in action the majority that I know do care for their livestock.

  137. Matthew Says:


    “All am merely pointing out is that farmers seem to think they are the law and bend it to suit themselves…”

    What evidence do you have that this statement is accurate? So far as I can see you are basing this one farmer who has gone beyond what the law allows. One rotten apple does not a wasted harvest make! Assumptions such as this are wildly inaccurate and insulting to the vast majority of farmers who operate with the law.

    “I do think owners have a responsibility which is why the punishment should lie with them not the dog unless the dog is out of control!!”

    Surely if the dog is under close control there is no problem and therefore no punishment is required on any persons or animals.

    “If sheep are lambing they definitely should be better protected…” What would you deem as better protected? As I know one sheep farmer who every lambing season moves out of her house into a caravan in the same field as the sheep and walks round them every couple of hours. Yet even this does not prevent dog attacks.

    “…its not just dogs that scare them in one of the previous posts it was a hot air balloon but did the farmer chase the owner and shoot him…It is the same thing its scaring sheep!!!”

    To carry out your suggestion would involve foliating several firearms laws and would also be another case of farmers bending the law to suit them. In actual fact the balloon was ordered off her land and as the land is a established no fly zone the company has been asked to pay all costs resulting from the incident.

    “Your argument that keeping a grazing animal in a barn is cruel…urm they’re going to die we are going to kill then eat them and their babies didnt realise that was kindness and it doesnt stop dairy or chicken farmers.”

    Just because these animals are destined for the dinner plate why does that mean they should not be allowed to enjoy what time they have? Also most meat farmers I know tell me that you get a better quality of meat from animals that are kept outside. Not sure that Dairy herds kept in side would produce quality milk, but I could be wrong on that. Chickens are not sheep and it is affordable to have barns built that are of sufficient size to meet legal space requirements, though that does meant that I approve of this practice Free Range chickens are far more tasty then their battery counterparts.

  138. julian Says:

    I can only judge on my own experiences as can you.

    There are differences in farming in different areas in some areas sheep are fenced in and this is probably what you are referring to however I am in an area where sheep are free to roam and they are nothing but a nuisance these are the farmers that I am referring to.

    Until you have put up with sheep damaging your property, suffer sheep on the road every day that force you to either brake, swerve or wait for them to move, have to pass the stench of dead sheep that have either fallen or been knocked down by the side of the road and put up with the farmer driving at 3 mph looking for his sheep you will not change my opinion of farmers or my belief that they are not police, lords or gods so therefore shouldnot be allowed to kill someones pet.
    I think on this subject we will have to agree to disagree.

  139. Sally Says:

    Hi Julian

    I live in Cumbria so am well aware of life with roaming sheep and I agree, livestick (in this day and age) should be fenced in. Of course there will always be escapee’s but on the whole fences make life safer for everyone.

    While people choose to eat meat we will always farm animals, that means fallen stock, lost lambs and sheep worrying. Yes it means you have to occassionally see a dead animal, wait for an animal to move or drive slowly behind a farmer but next time you tuck into a lamb dinner or steak and ale pie please have a think about those times you curse farmers or their animals.

    Thank you for this discussion, it’s always interesting to see both sides of an argument.

  140. Deeana Says:

    I was crossing a field today with my dog, off-leash. It is designated open-access land, with a footpath running across it. There was no livestock at all in the field – although there had been, until recently. As I walk there often, I checked first and seeing no animals let my dog run free. She rarely strays far from me. I saw a woman enter from the other side of the field, with her labrador on a lead. I put my dog on her lead in case the lab decided to chase my dog, which happens frequently, and led her away to avoid that dog. As she crossed the field, the woman with the lab shouted at me to say that I should have my dog on a lead because “There might be sheep in the field.”

    Fact is, there WERE NO SHEEP IN THE FIELD. My rhetorical question is, what right does SHE have to tell me to put my dog on a lead when there are no animals in the field. I find this quite bizarre. OF COURSE if there were sheep I would have put Ruby on a lead – in fact, I often take a different route rather than walk through a field containing sheep – it’s only sensible for everyone concerned.

    What concerns me here is the sanctimonious, I’m a better country-woman than thou attitude which assumes that just because I don’t dress in tweeds and carry a heavy stick, like her, I am irresponsible.

    Country woman – you were unjustified in upbraiding me. I wish you would not do that.

  141. Deeana Says:

    Interestingly as I did the same walk today, a similar thing happened. As I approached the field in question, I noticed the sheep had been put back in the field. I immediately put Ruby on the lead, before entering the field next to the field with the sheep. We began to cross the field with Ruby close to my heels, held tightly on the lead, and keeping well away from the sheep, moving slowly and so as not to disturb the ewes.

    A woman who had been running her dog loose in the adjacent field suddenly called out to me. “Put your dog on a lead!” I replied, “She’s on a lead.” She then said, “Oh, I didn’t see that.”

    Is this part of East Sussex patrolled by the Anti-Dog Walker Vigilantes or something?

    Second country woman – also in tweeds with a stick, but this time with a border collie – you were unjustified in upbraiding me. Who ARE you to accost me? I wish you would identify yourself before doing that.

  142. alyson Says:

    Hi, we have two beautiful ridgebacks who we very rarely let off the lead as they become a pack.We have put a 6′ fence around our 2 acre land and installed large wooden gates which I monitor intently as I know there are sheep all around us.I respect the fact that the farmer has a right to graze his livestock without having to be worried about my dogs.
    Unfortunately whilst walking last week my son actually dropped the lead and one of the dogs got through a gap in the fence and began chasing sheep.He came back within minutes and my son brought him home.Afew minutes later the farmer cane around to say he had seen it and was going to check there was no injuries.I apologised profusely and asked them to let me know if anything was harmed. Acouple of hours later they returned to say a ram had been nipped at the neck and was in shock and they would monitor it overnight.I asked if we could call a vet but they said nothing could be done.The next morning we got a call to say it was dead.We immediately went around to ask how much we owed them even though my son was adamant no contavt was made.After all this is our neighbour and we didnt want any bad feeling and I realised that the shock could be the cause.We only saw the farmerd wife because she said her husband was very mad at us and still wanted to come around with the gun and shooy the dog.She couldnt tell us how much it was worth as they wouldnt know until the rest were auctioned in a few weeks.Of course it was no ordinary sheep but a blue faced leicester and worth quite a lot.Today I have had a letter from them with a valuation on the sheep from the local auction house of £1500! There is also a letter from the vets stating the cause of death as a viscious dog attack.
    We will pay this but also in the letter they state that any further incident of straying or chasing will result in their insistence that the dogs are destroyed which they could of done in this case. Is this true?If I am paying in full with no complaint and I have done everything in my power to secure the dogs why should this be?
    It is very stressful now at my home.I have cancelled some workmen coming in the next few days just incase the gate is left open.
    I should add that the dogs are 6 years old and have escaped 3 times including this time so we generally manage quite well but the stakes are so high now!

  143. Sally Says:

    Hi Deena

    Perhaps she was the owner of the land or connected to it in some way? Yes she should have checked first to see if your dog was on a lead but perhaps you were the 10th dog walker she had seen that afternoon and the other 9 had let their dogs run loose?

    I assume there is a public right of way on the land? If so when you encounter her again just ask politely if it is her land. If it’s not don’t go into the “what’s it got to do with you” conversation as this just causes arguments and she may be the owners neighbour or friend, just say you are aware of the livestock and your dog is kept on a lead when there is livestock in the field.

    Remember she might have spent half her day telling dog walkers to put their dogs on a lead around the livestock, it doesn’t excuse her attitude but try to understand how frustrating that is.

  144. Sally Says:

    Hi Alyson

    What a dreadful situation to be in, I really feel for you.

    As far as I am aware, and I’m no expert, yes they are within their rights to ask for the dogs to be destroyed if they attack or chase livestock again, as this shows the dogs are a danger to the livestock and you are unable to keep them under control. It’s not just a matter of you paying for the dead ram but they may have spent years developing a certain bloodline which your dogs could destroy if they get out again.

    Strictly speaking in order for your dogs to be under “close control”, which is the wording of the law, when your son accidently dropped the lead he should have been able to call the dog back to heel immediately. As he was unable to do so your dogs pose a future risk to the livestock, which are obviously no ordinary herd.

    Given your situation I would first of all arrange some serious dog training to ensure your dogs will return the moment they are called. Given the breed of your dogs I would look for a trainer who understands their natural instincts, as this isn’t going to be an easy task. You should be able to leave the gates open and your dogs not attempt to leave until told they can. Given that we are talking about your dogs lives I would even consider hiring an electric collar. These are not a pleasant way to train a dog but we used one on a dog who worried sheep and was in imminent danger of being shot, we zapped him once when he was making for the fence and he never tried it again.

    Also you need to go to a solicitor and get some advice on your rights and responsibilities, just in case a situation does arise in the future, don’t wait for a problem to happen before seeking advice.

    Once you have some training arranged and have had legal advice go to see the farmer for a cup of tea. Explain what you have done and ask for any advice he has, just to try to build a relationship. This isn’t just about your dogs, you have to live next to your neighbours and I know only too well how much stress being at war with your neighbours can cause.

  145. Jackie Says:

    Stumbled across this page while researching the Dogs (Protection of Animals) Act 1953 and the Animals Act 1971 for coursework.

    Sally and Co, I admire your patience! Seems there are complete idiots in all walks of life. I am a dog owner, and I believe sheep to be the most stupid animals ever, but some of the comments from the pro-dog/anti-sheep crowd are just unbelievable!!! I’m not saying farmers are lily-white either, the tale of the one shooting a walker in the leg was also rather shocking! But we dog owners have to remember that we don’t just have rights, we have responsibilities too.

    Interested in the rights of a farmer to ask that a dog that has worried be destroyed – didn’t know that was the case, gives me something new to check out for my essay, thanks.

  146. Sally Says:

    Hi Jackie

    As far as I’m aware there is no law saying a farmer can ask for a dog to be destroyed after the fact, I think it’s something that a vet and the police can decide if the dog has proved itself to be a danger … would be interested to hear what you research about it.

  147. thelaw (1 comments.) Says:

    n.b. sally;

    “before you allow your dog to run freely on footpath”

    lawful use of footpaths require dog owners to have dogs on lead or under close control – AND dogs are not permitted to leave line of path. Breach of above will constitute trespass, amongst other things.

  148. Sally Says:

    Hi the law

    Thanks for the comment and you are correct but a dog can run freely on a footpath and still be under close control. A well trained dog will respond to your commands immediately (although I wish someone would tell our puppies that).

  149. Victoria Says:

    Hi All

    I read all the above with great interest, I actual found this site as I have 2 14 week old English Pointers and I was looking for advice on how to stock proof them. I am amazed how everyone seems to be generalising on farmers and dog owners. No we are not all the same some farmers are not great and some dog owners are not great. Unfortunately the farmers round me are not that great and do seem to think they have more rights than anyopne else!
    I live in Yorkshire so plenty of sheep! I have also had dogs all my life but never had any issues until my last beloved boy (RIP) who was a rescue case and I quickly found out was a sheep chaser!

    I particularly resent the first comment about a dog owner waving a lead around! How about a farmer with a gun…slightly more threatening!
    My first crossing with a farmer was walking along a track through a field (no sheep!) my dog was running around off the lead chasing crows (completely ignoring me!) he started wondering back towards me when a farmer sped up on his quad bike and jumped off and started having a massive go at me waving his gun in the air, he was saying that he had sheep in the next field blah blah blah, i will say now it was a very heated arguement mainly because i felt so threatened by a man screaming at me with a gun in the air! If he had come up to me and said infuture could you please keep your dog on the lead through here as i ahve sheep in the next field I would have said yes ofcourse, but i don’t see how ranting at anyone and being so threatening helps anything! also my dog and I had done nothing wrong there was not a sheep in site for miles!
    My dog however did start showing signs that he would start chasing so we kept him on the lead all the time ( we use to have to drive to the coast so we could let him off and run on the beach as there was nowhere near us where we could safely do this). One day howver he did escape and we managed to get him and called the farmer to say that he had attacked a sheep etc. The sheep had a very small surface wound on the rump where a tiny patch of wool had been pulled off , that was it! the farmer put it to sleep! what a waste of a life, we paid the farmer £400 which i have no problem with but I am so upset they killed the sheep when it did not have any serious injuries! I they had told me before I would have paid the £400 and taken the sheep home and got it back to full health, i still can’t believe they killed the sheep for what was basically a graze!
    My friend had an incident with a local farmer when her 3 dogs escaped, he called her up to say he had them, she thanked him and went to collect them, outside his back door were 3 dead dogs! he hadn’t even told her on the phone that he had shot them!!! Aside from the fcat that he had shot them, they were ALL shot in the back of the head in exactly the same place, which says to me that he caught them and then shot them! I do not believe he was that good a shot! The dogs had also (according to eye witnesses) just been in the wrong field not actually chasing or worrying sheep.
    I think my main issue is the amount of sheep on the road and not being contained, if my horses get out and kicked someone por caused damage I am liable for all costs etc, are farmers liable? as they don’t seem to do much around here to make sure they are kept safe, i regularly seem to be picking lambs up off the roam and putting them back on the right side of the fence.
    I also found a lamb in a field that was tangled up in loose sheep netting ( a complete hazzed if you ask me) it was completely stuck could not move! I went and told my neighbours who kept phoning the farmer but no answer, I kept checking on this sheep every hour, it got to about 6pm (Decemeber) very cold wet and windy night and the lamb was still their. So i decided i had to cut him free myself otherwise he wouldn’t survive the night, after 3 hours with a torch and a pair of secateurs i got him free! Do you know i didn’t even get a thankyou form the farmer! i saved one of his lambs and he couldn’t be bothered to phone and say thankyou, if my dog however had killed it …believe me he would have been intouch! I didn’t do it for a thankyou i did it because i love animals, but it still annoys me that he has the gall to shoot dogs but doesn’t care enough to make sure his stock are kept in a safe environment!
    Before you all jump on me i don’t disagree that farmers should be allowed to protect their sheep, I just think some farmers are hypocritical!

    Anyway rant over and i hope all your farmers can be patient with us dog walkers …. most of us are reasonable and do our best but there will always be the ones that give us a bad reputation and have no regard for the countryside and peoples livelyhoods!!!

    Sorry just one more thing! what is the best way to stock proof ( i am not doing the ram thing with 2 puppies they would get killed!) we have plenty of sheep around is just walking passed them and praising the dogs for not reacting to sheep the best way, or should we take them up to the fence line and show them the sheep and teach them to sit when they see them? any ideas most welcome, as I said we have sheep EVERYWHERE her so i have to teach them to be off the lead with them.
    thanks :)

  150. Victoria Says:

    sorry just reread my message above , please believe me…I am not illiterate! just typing faster than i think!!! ;)

  151. Sally Says:

    Hi Victoria

    Thanks for taking the time to leave your comments.

    I think you missed the point about a dog owner waving a lead around in their hand … the suggestion was not that the lead was being used as a weapon or threat but that if the lead was on the dog instead of in the owners hand then the problem would not have arisen in the first place.

    Indeed some farmers are hypocritical and others to be fair are nothing short of certifiable. However it’s impossible to respond to your various “rants” as we are only hearing one side of each story but one thing I will say for others reading this is to never pay a bill for a sheep damaged by your dog until you see a vet’s report/bill, photo’s of injuries and checked out the current market rate for that breed/age/gender of sheep.

    Re your puppies .. the law requires that your dogs are under close control, which means they will respond the moment you call/whistle/click and do not go into the doggie selective deafness zone. This training can obviously be done away from sheep initially. Once you think they are under close control you can take them near to sheep on a long lead (I would try to enlist the help of a friendly farmer if you can) if they still respond to you, rather than go off into the zone and “play” with the sheep, then you can try them off the lead but make sure there is a fence between the dogs and the sheep to begin with. As you are surrounded by sheep I would be aiming to get them sitting 3 inches from sheep and not reacting at all when you walk away (preferably out of their sight), just in case they ever escape.

    It will take time and effort but the reward of not having your dogs shot will be well worth the effort.

    I don’t know why dog trainers don’t run such classes, they could make a fortune.

  152. Matthew Says:


    I have read your post with a mixture shock and understanding. As a dog owner I sympathise with a lot of what you say, however as someone who is asked to protect sheep I can see both sides of the argument. I would like to give you my opinions on a point by point basis so please humour me.

    “I particularly resent the first comment about a dog owner waving a lead around! How about a farmer with a gun…slightly more threatening!
    My first crossing with a farmer was walking along a track through a field (no sheep!) my dog was running around off the lead chasing crows (completely ignoring me!) he started wondering back towards me when a farmer sped up on his quad bike and jumped off and started having a massive go at me waving his gun in the air, he was saying that he had sheep in the next field blah blah blah, I will say now it was a very heated argument mainly because I felt so threatened by a man screaming at me with a gun in the air! If he had come up to me and said in future could you please keep your dog on the lead through here as I have sheep in the next field I would have said yes of course, but I don’t see how ranting at anyone and being so threatening helps anything! Also my dog and I had done nothing wrong there was not a sheep in site for miles!”
    Firstly threatening behaviour of any sort is a caution able offence, add a gun into that and it starts to get REALLY SERIOUS and the farmer risks being arrested. However you admit that your dog was ignoring you so the farmer could have seen this and for all we know he could have had a dog attack the previous day, thus acted more out of emotion. Though still waving a gun around in a threatening manner is VERY wrong.

    My friend had an incident with a local farmer when her 3 dogs escaped, he called her up to say he had them, she thanked him and went to collect them, and outside his back door were 3 dead dogs! He hadn’t even told her on the phone that he had shot them!!! Aside from the fact that he had shot them, they were ALL shot in the back of the head in exactly the same place, which says to me that he caught them and then shot them! I do not believe he was that good a shot! The dogs had also (according to eye witnesses) just been in the wrong field not actually chasing or worrying sheep.
    On the basis of what you are saying here, the farmer has overstepped the mark. The law only offers protection if the dogs are or can be reasonably assumed to cause death or injury. Once that threat has been removed a farmer is breaking the law to shoot a dog and I was told this by a Fire Arms Officer. Also did he notify the police within 24hrs as he is required to?

    “I think my main issue is the amount of sheep on the road and not being contained, if my horses get out and kicked someone poor caused damage I am liable for all costs etc, are farmers liable? as they don’t seem to do much around here to make sure they are kept safe, I regularly seem to be picking lambs up off the roam and putting them back on the right side of the fence.
    I also found a lamb in a field that was tangled up in loose sheep netting ( a complete hazzed if you ask me) it was completely stuck could not move! I went and told my neighbours who kept phoning the farmer but no answer, I kept checking on this sheep every hour, it got to about 6pm (Decemeber) very cold wet and windy night and the lamb was still their. So i decided i had to cut him free myself otherwise he wouldn’t survive the night, after 3 hours with a torch and a pair of secateurs i got him free! Do you know i didn’t even get a thankyou form the farmer! i saved one of his lambs and he couldn’t be bothered to phone and say thankyou, if my dog however had killed it …believe me he would have been intouch! I didn’t do it for a thankyou i did it because i love animals, but it still annoys me that he has the gall to shoot dogs but doesn’t care enough to make sure his stock are kept in a safe environment!
    Before you all jump on me i don’t disagree that farmers should be allowed to protect their sheep, I just think some farmers are hypocritical!”

    In short any animal that is not where it is allowed to be (private or common land) then the owner is liable for any damage they cause. So if the sheep walked into your garden and destroyed it then the farmer is liable. However as to why you did not get a thank you he could just be a bad egg. At least you did the right thing unlike most people who would either do nothing or phone the RSPCA.

    Anyway rant over and i hope all your farmers can be patient with us dog walkers …. most of us are reasonable and do our best but there will always be the ones that give us a bad reputation and have no regard for the countryside and peoples livelyhoods!!!

    As you say most of us dog walkers are reasonable and likewise most farmers are reasonable, yet again the minority on both sides is spoiling it for the majority.

  153. jo clarke Says:

    i have three dogs, they ran off the other week, and two came back, the third a border collie,from working stock came back 5 minutes later. we went to where they had run,off a field next to our very large garden. we searched the field,my eleven year old,the farmer,their friends, we found one injured sheep,which ran like the wind, to car lights. i felt awful and said i would pay for the vets treatment. the farmer said he would have it put down,as no sheep can survive a dog bite/. after walking miles round fields, the sheep had more life in it than me,or my son, it took five of us to round it. The farmer came out a week later telling me he had destroyed two of his sheep and would not involve the authorities if i payed for all the costs, i agreed. next day he brought the dog warden out, wanting my border collie destroyed, i said i would chain her and the warden was fine, the farmer really wanted to shoot her. i recieved a letter from the council saying that if she was caught attacking another sheep,action would be taken. days later my two puppies were in the field,no sheep were present and when i called them, they came straight back. that evening the police came out asking me to hand over all three dogs, i declined as my three sons were away, until the next morning. i asked him why,he said it was because they had been in the field and it had been reported. if i had handed all three over, he would have destroyed all three.There was no evidence of their harm to the sheep, in fact at the same time two dogs were shot,dead not even half a mile away. The police officer has returned again and has said if he comes out again, he will take Megan the border collie, and destroy her. She has never been out of our garden, since. Is this allowed, when their has been no evidence of my dogs attacking. please help. I understand clearly, if they run off again, the farmer has the right to shoot them.

  154. Sally Says:

    Hi Jo

    Sorry to hear you are having trouble with your dogs and the local farmer.

    I’m afraid you haven’t given enough information for me to really comment. You say you and the puppies went into “the field” … who’s field is it? Do you or your dogs have any right to walk in that field? Does it have public access?

    If you have no right to be in the farmers field then I can understand why he wants the dogs shot, as ewes will be pregnant at this time of year and after the first instance you failed to stop your dogs entering the field again. The farmer cannot sit in the field 24 hours a day to protect the sheep so he must be proactive in protecting them.

    The fact that the sheep “had more life in it” than you tells us nothing because an injured animal will rely on it’s flight instincts, even when seriously injured.

    Sheep worrying doesn’t require evidence of harming the sheep, the fact that your dogs were not under close control around sheep is classed as sheep worrying.

    I think you need to find a way to exercise your dogs away from the farmers land or better still talk with the farmer about where he deems safe to walk your dogs … bearing in mind he will be unreasonable about this to begin with due to past experience. You can also get the dog warden to help you talk to the farmer. However, legally speaking you as the dogs owner are responsible for keeping your dogs under close control and only allowing them to go where you have legal access.

  155. Matthew Says:


    Sadly the dog does not have to harm the live stock for it to be classed as worrying, infact the laws says that it has to be either causig harm or be reasonably expected to do so.

    From what you say about the farmer getting you to pay up or face the authorities (what i think is Blackmail), then bringing them in any way. I would suggest that this farmer, his live stock & land should be avoided at all costs.

    I am not clear if you garden backs onto his land from what you say. If this is the case i would advise ugrading you ajoining fence to make it dog proof. With the dogs i would get them some additional training, there have been previous post on this forum about stock proofing dog. This sort of action on your part will demonstrate that you are taking this situation very seriously and are taking action.

  156. Alison Says:

    I am interested in the references to putting a dog in with a ram/rams to teach it to leave sheep alone.

    I have taken a dog from a rural friend – I live in Melbourne city – because the dog has killed rams. He is a male (now desexed) 3/4 German Shepherd 1/4 Border Collie about 2 years old.

    The dog killed three rams outright and damaged two others, which survived the ordeal, with veterinary care. Admittedly the rams were in a small paddock which gave the dog more room to maneouver and possibly gave him an advantage over being in a pen with rams but the damage he achieved was HORRIFIC.

    Please don’t put powerful dogs in with rams.

  157. Sally Says:

    Hi Alison

    I agree it is not a pleasant way to deal with the problem or one I would recommend. However, it can work as a last alternative to putting the dog to sleep. By putting the rams and dog in a very small pen the rams have no flight possibility so will out of sheer necessity fight the dog. I agree that taking a dog with such instincts out of a rural environment or simply putting it to sleep is a better alternative.

  158. John Says:

    I live in Ireland and recently I lost two dogs to sheep worrying. The things that concerns me and I believe that farmers should be compensated is that one of the dogs was illegally stolen from my yard by the farmer and shot and the other was apparently shot in the action. The law in Ireland is different in that dogs can be shot on the farmers land if their worrying. However, the dog that they stole from my yard was seen all morning in the yard and wasw not involved in the incident. Furthmore the farmer is now claiming damages of over 4,000 euro. Which is the death of 22 sheep and 15 badly injured. My question is can anyone point me to evidence or written material about how many sheep a dog can kill and mame in a short period of approx. 1 hour. I do have sympathy for the farmers losses however, I am doubting this situation as they were looking for a different dog earlier in the day.

  159. Louise Says:

    Hi all, some really useful bits of info here and some lovely comments but a shame about some not so friendly ones.
    I am a dog owner. I keep my dog on a lead at ALL times. I wouldn’t risk my dog scaring any animal or person for that matter. I take him to local dog parks where he can run free and then ensure he gets regular walks on a lead for the rest of his excersise/toilet breaks. My dog can be very timid and frightened which sometimes manifests in him cowering at my feet but other times he can be quite excitable around horses/cows/sheep etc so I do the responsible thing – I keep him on a lead by my side, where he belongs. That way he’s ok and so are the other animals.
    I have never had a farmer bring a sheep or other livestock into my office and stop me working so why should I take my dog somewhere that could potentially stop them working? They don’t smash up my computers or frighten my colleagues or family. The farm is their office and in most cases their home, if you choose to visit it then have some respect.
    I also think some people are getting confused with assuming the dog will attack the sheep but that really is only part of the issue, as many people have mentioned just the presence of the dog (or even the owner) could cause the sheep distress and thats not on either. Just because your dog is ok with other animals does not mean those animals are not scared of your dog!
    Every action every single person makes has an effect on someone – treat others as you would be treated yourself. Don’t want to lose your dog? Keep it on a lead!
    And if you have a farmer or livestock owner as a neighbour – go and talk to them about what they and you expect – start a relationship, not a war!
    Be the solution – not the problem.

  160. Sally Says:

    Hi John

    I really can’t comment as I know nothing about the law in Eire but if the dog was taken from your yard without the police involved in the UK that would be a criminal matter. Do you have the NFU or similar there? Such an organisation should have statistics on dog attacks.

    Personally I would be wanting to see a vet’s report about that many dead and injured sheep. It is possible of course if the dog was among them for long enough and had gone into a frenzy but I’d want some evidence.

  161. Sally Says:

    Hi Louise

    I can’t agree more, if you live in the countryside go and make friends with your local farmer. Most of us live in the countryside because we like peace and quiet so why allow bad feeling with a neighbour to ruin that.

  162. Shepherd(new comment) Says:

    HI John,

    I live in Ireland and just lost a dog to sheep worrying. She was only 9 months old and we just moved here in October. We kept her in a fenced in garden and always on a lead when walking her in the area as there are sheep around. We went away for one month over xmas and sent her to a kennel where she learned to climb. We were home only 2 weeks and in that time she learned to climb our fence, our car broke down so I had no way to get to the co-op to buy an electric fence which i was going to borrow the money (as I’m unemployed) to pay for. She was gone 30 minutes by the time i found her and by then it was too late. The farmer had shot her in the field across the road from our house. She hadn’t done any damage thankfully.

    Control of Dogs Act, 1986

    23.—(1) It shall be a defence to any action for damages against a person for the shooting of a dog, or to any charge arising out of the shooting of a dog, if the defendant proves that—

    (a) the dog was shot when it was worrying, or was about to worry, livestock and that there were no other reasonable means of ending or preventing the worrying; or

    (b) (i) the dog was a stray dog which was in the vicinity of a place where livestock had been injured or killed, and

    (ii) the defendant reasonably believed that the dog had been involved in the injury or killing, and

    (iii) there were no practicable means of seizing the dog or ascertaining to whom it belonged; and

    (c) he was the person in charge of the livestock; and

    (d) he notified within forty-eight hours the member in charge at the nearest Garda Station to the place where the dog was shot of the incident.

    (2) The provisions of subsection (1) (a) and subsection (1) (b) (i) and (iii) of this section shall be deemed to have been satisfied if the defendant believed that those provisions had been satisfied and he had reasonable grounds for that belief.

    The farmer that shot my dog would have known that she lived across the road as this is a small community. I know she was my responsibility but everything was against us that week.

    Times are hard here and everyone is struggling including the farmers. I think you should investigate your case further and take Sally’s advice. Not all farmers are honest!

  163. Sally Says:

    Hi Shepherd

    Thanks for your comments.

    I used to live on a large farm and the famer on the ajoining land would shoot any dog on his land, even mine and when no sheep are in his fields … some farmers would rather shoot first and avoid any potential problems but some, like my old neighbours, seem to think of it as a sport.

    Sorry to hear about your dog. It is always so important when you move to get to know your local farmers .. go visit and introduce yourself and build a relationship. It may not save your dog(s) if they do get out and worry sheep but it can save a lot of bad feeling and problems in the future.

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