RSPCA urge owners to keep dogs on leads after four sheep from Derbyshire flock killed

The RSPCA is appealing to dog owners to keep their pets on leads near livestock after four sheep from the same flock died in recent weeks.

By Tom Hardwick
Monday, 17th January 2022, 12:30 pm

Animal rescue officer Andy Sowden was called to an incident off Wolfscotes Dale in Hartington, near Buxton, after a member of the public reported seeing a stranded sheep on a high cliff ledge.

Mr Sowden attended the scene and could see that the animal was trapped ten metres down from the cliff top and with a 30 metre drop below her - so he called Derbyshire Fire and Rescue for assistance.

He said the farmer who owned the sheep believed an out-of-control dog was responsible and he had dealt with four similar cases of sheep dying - either after running off the cliff top in a panic and falling to their death, or following a dog attack.

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This sheep had a lucky escape and was rescued from a steep cliff edge

The farmer said: “We were very lucky this sheep had fallen onto a ledge, and thanks to the RSPCA and fire service she was rescued, unharmed from her ordeal.

“In another recent case, we had a dog chase two sheep off a cliff and they fell to their deaths from a 30 feet drop.

“Both had two lambs each who were so frightened that they ran off and we struggled to find them. They later returned to the dead bodies of their mums so we were able to rescue them.”

In another incident a dog attacked two lambs who were left with severe wounds and were sadly unable to recover.

The farmer said: “We have had this problem for a while now and we are concerned that it will get worse as more dog owners seem to be using this area.

“We really need dog owners to put their dogs on leads when near livestock, and be responsible.

“We would like more signage put in the area to tell people how vital this is, especially as more people seem to be walking their dogs in this popular National Trust area.”

Andy said: “The farmer told me that in recent times he has had a number of sheep which have fallen off cliffs and to their deaths. He believes in all cases that they have been frightened by dogs which have been let off their leads, and they have run away in panic and sadly died.

“We really need to stress the importance of keeping your pet under control or on a lead in the countryside to avoid these devastating attacks - especially in this area which is close to the River Dove and is also very popular with dog walkers.

“Whilst the vast majority of people take care, sadly these accidents can happen and even the most docile and obedient dogs can get distracted and excited by grazing animals.

“Dog owners should remember it is lawful for farmers to shoot a dog to protect livestock which would be distressing for everyone involved; and owners can face a police prosecution if their dog is caught worrying livestock,” he added.