'Keep your dog on a lead': South Downs farmers join campaign after sheep attacks

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Heather Edwards

Since the start of lockdown, the number of attacks on sheep by dogs has seen a sharp increase. Sadly, as is often the case, many are badly injured and killed.

People venturing out further into the countryside during the lockdowns has been attributed to the rise.

Caroline Harriott owns a sheep farm at Sompting in the South Downs and knows all too well the consequences of dogs being allowed off the lead on her land.

  • Caroline Harriott, Farmer

She says: "it is devastating as a farmer to go out into the field and see sheep piled up in the corner ears ripped off heavily in lamb ewes stressed".

Out at popular beauty spots talking to dog walkers, rangers from the South Downs National Park. They are running a campaign to remind people to keep their dogs on a lead and under control. 

  • Simon Mockford, South Downs National Park Authority

Simon says: "So really a kind of general awareness message we're giving. But I think particularly on farmland, when you're walking on farmland. As a general rule, it is definitely better to have your dog on a lead".

"Because of livestock, there has been issues, particularly this year and we're trying to get that message across. And we've got a campaign called take the lead. We've got some leaflets here today, so we're trying to promote that".

South Downs National Park rangers chat with dog walkers. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Farmers are putting pressure on the government to give the police greater power to  track down the owners of dogs that attack livestock, the local MP is putting a bill before parliament that would help them do just that. 

Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and South Downs, says: "'One of the things i will be doing as the local MP for Arundel is to introduce a DNA database for dogs".