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A farmer has described how one of her sheep was lucky to survive a savage dog attack.
Julie Campbell’s pet Suffolk was ‘ripped open’ by an out-of-control dog and had to be rushed for emergency help to stop it bleeding.
‘Her neck was ripped open, the vet said she was lucky to still have a jugular. The dog had also gone for her belly and she had teeth marks all down her back end,’ said Julie at North Connel’s family-run Achnacreebeag Farm.
Julie made the shocking discovery when she was checking her flock on the morning of May 26.
The attack has been reported to police but the identity of the dog and its owner is still unknown.
Julie had gone in search of the sheep after she realised two of her pet Suffolk flock were missing – they had all been checked the night before.
The distressed sheep, a one-year-old gimmer, was eventually found halfway up a waterfall covered in blood but still alive.
‘It was not a pleasant sight. She is lucky to still be alive. We are hoping for the best and that infection doesn’t set in.
‘No one has come forward to own up it was their dog. No one saw anything. I’ve reported it to the police,’ said Julie.
The injured sheep was rushed to Oban Vets who managed to stitch its horrific wounds.
‘All we can do now is keep our fingers-crossed that she makes it. She’s up to her eyeballs on antibiotics and painkillers,’ added Julie.
About 200 other commercial sheep also share the fields on Julie’s farm. This is not the first time her livestock has been attacked by out-of-control dogs.
‘We’ve had quite a few attacks over the years but she is the first to have survived. It was obviously a big dog that did this to her.
‘I would never want to shoot a dog but the harsh reality of it is that if a dog is deemed out of control by a farmer – it can be shot, even if it’s on an extendable lead. If it’s away from its owner and pinning a sheep down – it’s still out-of-control.’
‘Dogs need to be kept on leads. Stay away from livestock. Argyll has thousands of other acres to walk in. It’s very easy to stress sheep and it’s extremely dangerous at lambing time. Even if you can’t see any lambs in a field, the worry can cause a pregnant sheep to abort.’
NFU Scotland senior agent Euan Warnock says problems with dogs arise quite regularly in Argyll and vary from sheep being stressed and chased away from their hefted grazing to catastrophic and horrendous injuries involving many animals.
‘When we hear of reports of farmers finding injured sheep it is heart wrenching to think of the distress the animals have suffered. The economic cost to the farmers is secondary to the welfare of the animals but in many cases can be very significant and can run to thousands of pounds. In one local case a few years ago a large number of a farmer’s ewe hoggs, which were to become the next generation of his breeding flock, were badly attacked and the knock on effect of this catastrophe would have been felt for the next five to six years.
‘We strongly urge that dogs are kept on leads at all times when around livestock and that dog owners should familiarise themselves with the guidance published in the Outdoor Access Code.’
And a spokesman for PoliceScotland said: ‘Dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control at all times and dogs should be kept on a close lead when anywhere near livestock. It is particularly important at lambing time for owners to keep dogs well away from sheep because even just the sight of a dog in the distance can be enough to panic sheep and scare them away from their lambs.
‘Sheep – and other livestock – worrying obviously impacts on the animals but there is an emotional and financial impact on the farmer and any witnesses.
‘It is a criminal offence for dogs to be allowed to attack or chase livestock. It is also an offence for dogs to be at large – not on a lead or otherwise under close control – in a field in which there are sheep. Dog owners can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000. Dog owners can also be held financially liable for damages done by a dog.
Caption: A dog attack left this sheep bleeding badly and in need of urgent help