FARMERS are warning dog owners they may shoot their pets if they run loose and injure sheep - after a spate of horrific attacks in countryside near Sheffield.
The latest incident happened on Burbage Moor on Easter Monday, when three loose dogs tore into the side of a ewe, leaving a hole through which her unborn lambs were visible.
Another pregnant sheep needed surgery for face and neck injuries after being worried by a dog in the Mayfield Valley, Fulwood.
Liz Rhodes, who runs Greenhouse Farm in the Mayfield Valley, said: “Incidents of livestock being worried is fast becoming a national crisis for farmers. Had the dogs been on a lead both events would not have taken place.
“No farmer likes to shoot a dog that is worrying sheep but, in extreme cases, they will.”
She added: “Owners are responsible for dog’s actions and can face prosecution.”
Both incidents have been reported to police.
Describing the attack on Burbage Moor, Liz said: “Three dogs not on leads worried a heavily pregnant ewe and possibly more, causing one ewe terrible injuries.
“Passers-by went to the ewe after witnessing the event and could see the terrible injuries sustained in the dog attack.
“The ewe’s unborn lambs could be seen through the ewe’s side where the dogs had ripped her apart.”
She added: “The local farming community does appreciate that people like to enjoy the countryside, and we are not saying all dog owners are irresponsible, but please keep dogs on a lead.
“Sheep at this time of year are heavily in lamb or with young lambs at foot, and even a dog chasing them causes them great distress and can cause pregnant ewes to abort their lambs or die from the trauma of being chased.
“What chance do lambs face against a dog chasing them?”