The emotional impact of dog attacks on farm animals

Watch: farmer urges dog walkers to be careful after fatal sheep attack

A farmer has spoken out about the emotional impact of losing an animal to a dog attack.

Lesley Pope's quad lamb Buzz was put down after he was so badly bitten by a dog at their farm in Pembury, Kent.

The Jacob sheep was attacked by an animal which likely jumped over a fence from a nearby footpath.

"He was a little quad lamb he was very friendly. It was tragic, absolutely tragic. There was nothing else wrong with him he would've had a very long life. It was very sad. I can't tell you how upsetting it is.

"He was so tiny when he was born, he'd been bottle fed, he was more like a pet than anything else. He had a job to do on the farm and he was lovely at doing it. He was really sweet."

Buzz before he was bitten by a dog Credit: Lesley Pope

A few weeks before Buzz was injured Lesley found a dog chasing her animals.

The attack on Lesley's farm is reflective of a 10% increase in 2020 on livestock being hurt, with more people walking their dogs during lockdown.

  • Dog attacks in the South East are on the up

Rebecca Davidson from NFU Mutual there is a lot of concern within the industry,

"We are very worried as we enter the lambing season when a lot of pregnant ewes and pregnant lambs can be vulnerable to attack."

"The pandemic has seen a big surge in countryside visits and of course that's so important for everybody's mental health and physical wellbeing as well so we don't want to stop that but we are just urging people to be responsible. There may be some visitors that just aren't familiar with the countryside code and also new dog owners. A dog that can be very well behaved at home can act very differently around farm animals."

Five top tips for dog owners:

  • Always keep dogs on the lead when walking in rural areas where livestock are kept

  • Be aware that even small lap dogs can attack and kill farm animals

  • Take special care to keep close control of dogs unused to farm animals

  • Report attacks by dogs and sightings of dogs roaming the countryside to local farmers or the police

  • Don’t let dogs loose in gardens adjoining livestock fields – many attacks are caused by dogs which escape and attack sheep grazing nearby

Source: NFU Mutual

Lesley is encouraging dog walkers to be careful and respectful of the area they're walking in,

"Know where your dog is and make sure he is under control. If you can't see him be worried, you've got to be able to recall your dog if there are any problems so if you can't do that please just put him on a lead so everyone is safe."