Police investigate sheep attacks

Disturbance of the ground near the hooves of the pregnant ewe show that she lived for a short time after the attack Carcasses of 5 pregnant ewes which were savaged by a dog or dogs between nant drive and soroba in oban picture kevin mcglynn

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A police investigation is under way after sheep were attacked in Oban, Mull and Lochgilphead.

A dog is believed to have attacked and killed five pregnant ewes in a field near Nant Drive, Oban. The incident occurred sometime between 4pm on February 11 and 4pm February 12.

Another dog is believed to have killed three sheep on Mull on February 13 in a field near to Mull Hospital at Craignure.

In Lochgilphead, police are investigating an incident on Wednesday February 6 at around 5pm, when a small dark Spaniel-type dog was seen to be chasing sheep in a field near to Dunadd Farm. The dog was eventually caught by the person in charge and taken away in a vehicle.

Speaking to The Oban Times, Robbie MacDougall, who owned the sheep killed on Mull, said: ‘I have never in my life seen anything like this. It is devastating. I have a croft and that was my stock. I don’t think I have seen, in real life, devastation like that. It was shocking.’

Of Mr MacDougall’s nine sheep, three were killed, three remain in a life-threatening condition, two are still missing and one is unharmed.

The sheep were located at Scallastle Farm, where the council worker helps out.

Mr MacDougall said he spotted a sheep with its leg caught on the fence, which he believes happened as the animal tried to evade the attack.

After helping the hogg, he then spotted scattered wool with bits of skin and flesh ‘as big as your hand’.

He then had to go back to work, but phoned the police and asked his daughter if she could locate the sheep.

‘The three that are really badly injured will be lucky to survive,’ Mr MacDougall added.

‘The dogs certainly know how to kill, taking them out by the throat and every [sheep] had chest wounds.

‘What I am concerned about now is if there are kids playing and one is dressed in a white top and a black hat and the dogs get in a frenzy. They could take the throat out of the kid.

‘The annoying thing is the person knows their dogs have killed sheep. They would have come home dirty and full of blood. They were missing for a considerable amount of time.

‘Why don’t they come forward and be man enough to admit it? It is devastating. Hopefully, they will get caught.’

Sergeant Iain MacNicol from Lochgilphead Police Station said: ‘These incidents are particularly serious attacks and would have been extremely traumatic for the animals involved. Such incidents are also very emotionally distressing for the farmers and witnesses.

‘Dog owners have a legal responsibility to keep their dogs under control at all times and dogs should be kept on a close lead when anywhere near livestock.

‘Dog owners can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000. Dog owners can also be held financially liable for damages done by their dog.’

Officers are investigating the incidents and are appealing for anyone with any information to contact them on 101 quoting the relevant Crime reference numbers. Alternatively Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.

When calling the police, quote the following incident numbers: Oban, LB00860219; Mull, LB00930219; Lochgilphead, LB00900219.

Andrew McCornick, president of NFU Scotland, said: ‘We are saddened to hear of yet another livestock worrying attack. Many people underestimate the damage dogs can do to livestock, whether that is attacking them when being off a lead or causing them to contract dangerous diseases through their faeces. We need dog owners to take responsibility for controlling their dogs while out enjoying the countryside.

‘Livestock worrying continues to be a serious issue facing farmers and crofters, and through our recently-launched campaign Control Your Dog on Farmland, we hope to educate and encourage dog owners to know their responsibilities when out in the countryside.

‘You may think your dog is just playing with the sheep but that could change in an instant and you will have no way to stop the dog when it starts to attack.

‘Make sure your dog is on a lead when walking on farmland. Even if you can’t see livestock, they could just be over the hill or hidden in a dip. It’s not worth the risk, to you, your dog or the livestock.’