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Shepherd's warning to dog owners after five attacks on sheep in five weeks in Sandwich


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Two incidents of sheep worrying caused the death of 10 pregnant ewes and a seriously injured lamb in one farm.

Suzanne Stephens has released graphic images showing a hand-sized hole in the lamb's leg as part of her appeal for dog owners to keep their pets on leads when nearing sheep fields.

There have been several cases of sheep worrying in recent weeks
There have been several cases of sheep worrying in recent weeks

Warning: Disturbing image of dog bite follows

Ms Stephens looks after the flock for The Daw family of farmers at Sandown Road, in the Sandwich Bay Estate.

Police are investigating the incident where a single lamb was mauled on Thursday, March 11 at about 11.45am, and its Rural Task Team is trying to locate the owner of the golden retriever type breed who was seen heading towards Sandwich Quay after the attack.

In a second attack, the owner of a dog who chased 10 ewes through a fence, resulting in their eventual death, took responsibility and came forward so that incident was not reported to police.

The nasty injury suffered by the lamb after it was attacked by a dog
The nasty injury suffered by the lamb after it was attacked by a dog

She said the foetuses died inside their mothers, probably from shock, and their mothers went on to develop septicaemia and died from that.

Each animal had been carrying twins which also died and the whole horrifying incident in Sandwich cost almost £4,000.

Ms Stevens' brother farms further along at New Downs Farm and between the two siblings, they have suffered five dog attacks in five weeks.

She said: "I feel people should be made more aware the damage that is done by letting their dogs chase pregnant ewes and small lambs."

The act is an offence and is called sheep worrying.

Sheepwatch.co.uk says: "If you see a dog worrying sheep you should call 999 and state a crime is taking place as ​sheep are being worried by a dog.

"A dog wandering uncontrolled in a field can seem harmless enough but the situation can cause a farmer and sheep to be concerned and worried - this is enough to be a crime."

"The mum knows it had two young and she is wandering around the field looking for it with its pair..."

As well as the upset to the flock there are economical repercussions for the farmers.

Ms Stephens revealed each of the 10 sheep costs £130 to buy in the first place. Most are young with the potential to have numerous lambs in their reproductive life span.

Ultrasound scans showed each had two lambs inside them, which would have brought £100 each at slaughter. With the costs of feeding and caring for the pregnant sheep, for no return, plus dispersal of the carcasses at £40 an animal, it totals at least £3750 lost.

The injured lamb - now nearing eight weeks old, is still recovering but he is very unwell.

It is being cared for by a lady who takes in injured animals and she is paying for its care.

Shepherd Suzanne Stephens with the sheep she looks after (45400690)
Shepherd Suzanne Stephens with the sheep she looks after (45400690)

Treatment included packing a substance into the void in its leg to avoid infection. He is on antibiotics.

Ms Stevens added: "The mum knows it had two young and she is wandering around the field looking for it with its pair.

"We've got a field of 80 sheep and she's on her own."

Ms Stephens said not all attacks have been reported to police due to the time it takes to get a response from police - sometimes two to three weeks.

A police spokesman said: "We received a report of sheep worrying, in which a lamb was injured during the incident in Sandown Road, Sandwich at around midday on Thursday 11 March 2021.

"Inquiries are ongoing to identify the owner of a dog described as similar to that of a Golden Retriever which was seen in the area at the time of the attack.

"Officers from the Rural Task Force investigate all incidents of livestock worrying and where available, will utilise DNA samples from the injured livestock to be compared to any suspected dog."

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich

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