Sheep’s battle for survival

A FARMER has spoken of her horror when she saw that another of her animals had been brutally attacked by an out-of-control dog at a Cayton Bay clifftop.

Alison Burgess, who has a farm outside Muston with her husband Andrew, said this was not the first such attack and she was concerned for the ewe’s unborn lamb.

She said that it was also touch and go whether the ewe would survive after being “ripped to pieces”. She added: “I thought ‘not again’.”

Some of the bite wounds were down to the bone and the animal was attacked around the tail, to the front legs and neck – but this is not the first incident in Cayton.

Mrs Burgess said: “We’ve had them attacked there before and another field that we have in Cayton we have had dogs that have chased them.”

The recent attacks were during December and Mrs Burgess said that dogs should be kept under proper control by owners. She added: “You can’t believe the injuries.”

Steve Timms, a vet based at Alma Veterinary Surgery, treated the stricken animal and said: “It was just horrific. It was surprising it was still alive. It was one of the worst cases I’ve seen.”

He added that it was not just the physical injuries because the mental trauma could threaten unborn lambs. He said: “The shock sets them to lamb prematurely and abort.”

Geoff Edmond, the RSPCA inspector for Scarborough, was called to the incident. He said: “The sheep was in a distressed state and was unable to move far, its injuries were fresh and typical of being the victim of a vicious attack which may well have been by a dog.”

Geoff Edmond, the RSPCA inspector for Scarborough, said: “When I arrived the sheep was alive but with multiple recent wounds which were bleeding. The sheep was in a distressed state and was unable to move far, its injuries were fresh and typical of being the victim of a vicious attack which may well have been by a dog.

“With the help of North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards Animal Health Officers I contacted the owner who met me promptly at the field.

“The owners were understandably upset by what they saw and told me they had other sheep attacked by dogs.

“This is a serious concern and also at this time of year many ewes are in lamb ready to give birth in the spring.

“I would urge dog owners to keep their dogs on a lead when walking through fields containing livestock.”

PC Graham Bilton, Scarborough’s wildlife crime officer and rural beat manager, is the officer investigating the incident and said he was concerned that there had been several attacks in the same area.

He added: “This has obviously caused a great deal of upset for the owner, not only have a number of sheep been physically injured but the remaining flock have been chased which can in itself cause long term problems especially if the sheep are in lamb at the time.

“Dog owners need to be made aware that this type of irresponsible behaviour will not be tolerated.

“If dogs are being exercised within an area containing livestock it is a simple task to keep it under control and on a lead.

“Owners who allow their animals to worry and attack livestock may find themselves being prosecuted and their dog being destroyed.”

• Anyone who saw anything relating to this incident is urged to either contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234999 or North Yorkshire Police on 101.