Pregnant ewe dies after suffering serious injuries following suspected dog attack in Burnley

The severely injured sheep was reported to the RSPCA who attended the scene with a vet.
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A farmer has urged people to keep their dogs on leads after a suspected dog attack claimed the life of one of his ewes and her unborn lamb.

The badly injured sheep was spotted by a member of the public close to the Singing Ringing Tree at Crown Point on Sunday, March 3.

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An RSPCA officer attended and found she had a severely injured front right leg and what appeared to be teeth wounds on her right ear. 

A vet was contacted and attended the scene immediately following the incident.

A pregnant ewe died after suffering serious injuries following a suspected dog attack in Burnley (Credit: RSPCA)A pregnant ewe died after suffering serious injuries following a suspected dog attack in Burnley (Credit: RSPCA)
A pregnant ewe died after suffering serious injuries following a suspected dog attack in Burnley (Credit: RSPCA)

He agreed the ewe’s injuries appeared to be consistent with a dog attack and said they were so severe she needed to be put to sleep to prevent further suffering.

Contact was made with the farmer, Jonathan Shorrock, who gave his consent and sadly also confirmed she was carrying a lamb.

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Mr Shorrock, whose family have farmed in the area for generations, said he typically loses between ten and 20 sheep every year to dog attacks.

"I very rarely get contacted by an owner to say what's happened, but in the vast majority of cases people just walk away and leave the sheep injured," he said.

"I think some people see them grazing in the field and believe their dog should be able to go free too, while others just don't believe their dog will ever chase livestock.

"Dogs will very easily spook sheep and run off, causing the dog to give chase. A great deal of time and expertise is involved in breeding these sheep, but it’s a problem myself and other farmers have to face year in, year out."

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Dog owners are reminded that it is lawful for farmers to shoot a dog to protect livestock.

Owners can also face a police prosecution if their dog is caught worrying livestock.

Mr Shorrock added: "I've nothing against people walking their dogs, I just want them to be responsible and put them on a lead when they are near sheep.

"It will also help to protect ground-nesting birds, such as curlews, who are also on the moorland at this time of year."

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Simon Small, RSPCA Chief Inspector for Lancashire, said this was a problem faced by the farming community "all too often."

He added: "We were faced with an awful situation here which was devastating for the farmer, who not only lost his ewe but also the lamb she was carrying.

"This is a problem faced by the farming community all too often and it's totally avoidable if only owners kept their dogs on leads around livestock.

"The incident happened on a beautiful day and the area would have been busy with walkers and ramblers.

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"Most people will have been responsible and done the right thing, but the message is still not getting through to some owners who continue to let their animals run free."

Please consider your actions as a responsible dog owner when out and about enjoying the countryside:

  • Always check for livestock in fields when walking your dog/s 
  • Always make sure you shut gates behind you 
  • When in fields with livestock, it is vital that your dog/s are kept on a lead and under control at all times 
  • The only time you should release your dog is in the event of being chased by cattle. By restraining the dog in this circumstance you are putting yourself at risk of being injured by the animals 
  • If your dog chases, scares or attacks sheep, report it to the farmer, even if there is no apparent injury, as the stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs
  • If you live near livestock and own a dog/s make sure that your property and garden are secure so your pets cannot escape 
  • If you are worried about your dog’s behaviour visit the RSPCA’s website to find a suitable behaviour expert. 

"Panicked sheep can be killed or badly injured by loose dogs and pregnant ewes can miscarry, so we really cannot stress how important it is to keep your pet under control and on a lead when near livestock," Simon added.

"Even if you think your dog is placid and friendly, when faced with a field full of animals they can be unpredictable.

"It’s simply not worth taking the risk, so please ensure you act responsibly."