Friday, 4 March 2016

Tragedy on the Farm - Dog Attack

I'm sorry if any of the pictures in this post offend anyone but this is the very gruesome reality of what can happen if your dog is not under control.

Yesterday, I went out to feed our 2 sheep and let the 2 lambs out before I went to work. I could hear a dog whistle being repeatedly blown which was odd as our nearest neighbours don't use one and we are surrounded by open farmland and no footpaths.
I walked down to the gate and immediately saw a large brown dog in the field attacking my sheep. It was a big, solid Ridgeback type dog and I screamed at it to get out. The field isn't very big but it could have been a mile long in that moment when I couldn't get the dog off my sheep.
The dog didn't immediately rush off when I yelled at it, I had to scream at it and throw my bucket towards it before it eventually hopped back over the fence into a thicket of brambles.

I went down towards the sheep. One ewe was stood stock still, totally terrified and the other, bless her, tried to get up but fell over onto her side because her legs had been eaten.

Seconds after the attack
I could immediately see this was a very serious situation and my poor old girl wasn't going to be saved so I called the first number on my phone I could think of - the next farm over to see who the bloody hell had a big brown dog because it had just attacked my sheep and I wanted it captured before it got too far away. They didn't know so I called Mother who had already left for work about half an hour earlier and had seen the sheep waiting at the gate for their breakfast.

My next call was to the vets as I thought they would get to us quicker than the knacker men. He left immediately but it still took about half an hour for him to arrive.

Seconds after the attack
When I had called the vet, I rang my work and told them through my sobs that I would be a bit late. They are all country boys and one offered to come out and shoot the sheep himself if it would be quicker but the vet was already on his way.

I went to the ewe's head and just stroked her head and spoke to her. She was petrified and in shock but she seemed soothed by my voice. I wished I could have stayed with her but I had to go and flag the vet down as we are at a new house he hadn't been to before.

I walked up the drive and saw one of the other neighbours who didn't know anything about a big brown dog but was very kind and offered to go and wait in the road for the vet so I could get back to the ewe.

Mother came tearing home from work and raced down the field to her sheep and just sat with her until the vet arrived.

It took a long time for the vet to get a vein to inject the sheep as she was so badly in shock. I'm not sure that many vets carry guns these days but it would have been far quicker with a gun.

Once the ewe died, we turned her over to see how bad she was and we were all so shocked at the damage. Her entire buttock had been ripped open and her flesh was missing from her hindquarter. All the tendons in her leg had been ripped and the flesh on her leg was like a baggy pair of tights and the flesh on her body was very loose where it had been torn.

He tail was laying a good 10 yards from her body and there were marks on the ground where she had been dragged by the dog. Along the field were clumps of skin and wool. There were also gouge marks in the ground from her horns.

Her tail
The drag mark across the field from her body to where the tail was - bottom left you can see gouge marks in the ground from her horns
Drag marks towards her body once tail collected

I can't describe this scene of absolute horror. That sheep was our pet and some bastard out of control dog came into our private garden and savaged her.

The vet was so appalled he asked me to email him the pictures and he said that we absolutely must contact the police.

We called the police to report it and while I was on the phone to them, Mother called one of the neighbours to ask about a big brown Ridgeback type dog and they said their nephew had got one just like it and it was staying with them. Their land backs onto ours but you can't see the sheep through the hedges so it must have smelled them.

The police advised us to go and speak to them if only to rule the dog out of the crime.

We went to see them and sure enough, we were met by a beautiful, friendly big brown dog. He is a 4 year old Ridgeback cross Rottweiler so my guess at the breed in that moment when it was attacking my sheep was a good one.

The dog that did it

We showed the owner the damage and took all his details and told him we'd reported it to the police. 
He said the dog had got out in the morning before he had a chance to get the lead on it and it had disappeared for about 15 minutes. He said he was using the whistle and that he heard me shout but he still didn't think it was his dog who did it.
I could tell they weren't taking things seriously because they said sorry in a very unconvincing manner and then laughed asking if we were going to have lamb chops and changing the subject to our house and plans. They must have known what the dog did but can't seem to admit it or apologise. The dog even had a spot of fresh blood on its collar!

I rang the police back and updated them with the dog owner's details and went to work.

That evening, we decided that we would ask the dog owner to come and look at the carcass so he could actually see first hand what his dog had done so he did come over and was shocked at the state of her but was still asking if I had definitely seen the dog on the sheep which I obviously confirmed! 
We told him we would be sending him the vet bill and knacker bill which he accepted and we told him to not let the damned dog out without being on a lead and preferably wearing a muzzle!

The dog owner said he lived in a village but the dog had not seen sheep before. His relatives who are our neighbours knew we had sheep but they obviously didn't warn him to keep the dog under control whilst in their field. 

The police are visiting us tomorrow which I think is a bit useless and I don't think they are taking this seriously either - what if that had been a child instead of a sheep?

We shall see what they have to say but I'm not expecting much success.

Please let this horrendous incident be a wake up call for those people who are naive when it comes to their pet's behaviour.
A well loved, very friendly dog did this out of the blue because it got an opportunity. If your dog is not stock trained, please keep it on a lead where there might be livestock around. Farmers are entirely within their rights to shoot your pet if it is just chasing (worrying) their stock, not even attacking. If I'd had a gun, I would have shot that dog without a second thought because it was attacking my pets on my private property.

Imagine how you would feel if something came and attacked your pet and left it for dead and the owner didn't do anything to apologise or compensate you. It is sickening and the most heartbreaking thing to have to witness.

If your dog does happen to chase or attack livestock (heaven forbid); please don't just walk away pretending it didn't happen - find out who the owner is and apologise in person, offer compensation and take responsibility. It really goes a long way. When a dog has worried stock once, they'll do it again so be extra vigilant from then on and just never let them off the lead if there is any possibility of livestock being in nearby fields.

Please be responsible for your pet's actions. A dog's instinct to chase will kick in no matter how good your recall is so just don't take the risk. You are the one responsible for your pet's behaviour and there are big fines and your pet could be destroyed.

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