Police issue statement following Lancing sheep killing

A picture of the scene by Sussex Police
A picture of the scene by Sussex Police

Sussex Police has issued a statement after a pack of dogs attacked sheep, killing one and seriously injuring another.

Read the original story here: Farmer speaks out after more than 100 sheep killed or injured in attacks

Rural PCSO Erica Baxter

Rural PCSO Erica Baxter

A dog walker in West Sussex has been cautioned after a sheep died and two others were seriously injured following an attack by dogs in their care on the South Downs near Lancing.

The incident happened on February 17 and earlier this month the dog walker was cautioned and issued with a community protection warning.

With the days drawing out and warming up, more people are heading out into rural areas to exercise their pets, prompting Sussex Police to renew appeals to keep dogs under control in the countryside.

Rural PCSO Erica Baxter (pictured) said: "Unfortunately, livestock worrying is an all too common occurrence across Sussex and we've had particular problems in areas with excellent public access such as the South Downs.

"It is important for all pet owners and commercial dog walkers to understand that allowing a dog to be off lead and out of close control within a livestock field can be considered to be livestock worrying, without any physical attack taking place.

"Livestock worrying does have a significant effect on the animals involved, on farm businesses and on farmers whose livestock is harmed through no cause of their own.

"Quite apart from the obvious immediate stress and potential injury to livestock, those frightened animals can damage field boundaries as they try to escape attack, so they are no longer safely contained.

"After-effects can include death from shock, abortion or failure to conceive and injuries can take time to heal, carrying a risk of 'fly strike' where they become infested with maggots as blood attracts insects.

"We urge people to keep their dogs on a lead while they are walking in rural areas and around livestock. So often in these incidents the owners are horrified by what their dogs have done. It is true to say that even a single, gentle and loving pet dog can be hard to catch if it runs off; it can enter a field and once there, can chase or kill livestock.

"Commercial dog walkers with multiple dogs from different homes bear a particular risk level and responsibility for awareness around this issue, so it is advisable for pet owners to ensure that their dog is also being walked responsibly when out of their own care.

"Apart from the impacts on farming, there are also risks to dogs and to people if they are within a livestock field. Frightened animals can charge unpredictably or even directly at the person or animal that they perceive to be a threat, which would be an awful experience to go through even without any injury caused.

"Additionally, a farmer can legally shoot a dog that is chasing livestock.

"Everyone involved in these beautiful areas of our county wishes them to be widely enjoyed for the great open areas that they are and that is best achieved through responsible attitudes all round."