Dog attack on sheep could be a wolf

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A farmer whose sheep was savaged by what she believed was an out-of-control dog has been told by police it could have been a wolf.

Julie Campbell’s Suffolk sheep is now recovering from the horrific ordeal that saw it ‘ripped open’ and left bleeding, needing emergency treatment.

Julie who runs Achnacreebeag Farm in North Connel reported the incident to police as a dog attack but officers have told her they cannot confirm the injuries were inflicted by a dog because whatever caused the wounds was so big. They told her it could have been a wolf, she says.

‘I was speechless. Wolves round here have been extinct for hundreds of years. It’s not as if I live next to a zoo either!’ she said.

The one-year-old gimmer she found injured on May 26 with teeth marks down her back end and a gaping hole in her neck and belly is now ‘doing grand’ with all her stitches taken out but was lucky to survive.

‘She is doing well so fingers-crossed that will be it now,’ said Julie, who was sickened to hear of a dog attack on sheep at Lerags on Sunday, witnessed by a shocked holidaymaker.

A Facebook post put up on Information Oban by the witness read: ‘We’ve just witnessed a horrific attack of sheep, one of which has fallen off a cliff, by a small terrier-like dog whose owners just let the dog into the field …That poor sheep is likely dead. It fell in mid-air, somersaulted and landed at the bottom of a cliff. I have the full incident on video.’

The Oban Times tried to contact the farmer and understands his sheep were being gathered to be checked over on Monday.

Julie said: ‘It’s disgusting this has happened but incidents like this are happening all the time not just here in Oban.

‘I think it can be more of a problem in visitor areas because people don’t know the lay of the land. In many cases the dogs are probably from cities and big towns and have never seen sheep before.

‘Dog owners need to keep their pets on leads and stay away from livestock. It’s our livestock getting hurt and it’s our livelihoods being damaged.’

NFU Scotland senior agent Euan Warnock said it was frustrating to hear of another attack on sheep in the Oban area.

‘There is no way of turning the clock back on this horrible incident but the recent passing of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2021 by the Scottish Parliament gives the police much wider powers to investigate and prosecute the owners of dogs involved in this type of criminal offence.

‘Owners now face a maximum penalty of £5,000 or up to six months’ imprisonment.

‘This clearly emphasises that allowing your dogs to chase or injure sheep is a serious criminal offence and the consequences for the owner could be very serious.

‘We urge owners to keep dogs on the lead at all times when out in the countryside anywhere near livestock,’ he said.

Advice from PoliceScotland is that as well as facing prosecution owners can also be held financially liable for damages done by a dog.