A Devon farmer’s weeks old lamb was left wounded after being brutally attacked by dog walkers on Monday morning.
David Kennard’s springtime addition was left with a serious bite mark on its right hind leg and neck, wounds which David says will be difficult to heal.
The 50-year-old Woolacombe farmer has said that this one incident is part of a wider problem.
So, to try and educate the owners of the dogs committing the attacks, he turned to Facebook.
A portion of the post reads: “So my plea is to ask everyone you know to keep your dog on a lead when walking near livestock, and avoid this unnecessary suffering for the sheep, and all the resultant problems for those of us trying our best to earn a living from farming.”
The post has since been shared four thousand times and is getting the attention that David intended.
He said: “I put that just in desperation, I had six attacks last week.
“Once the dogs are in hunting mode there is no amount of calling that will stop them.”
He says that the dog owners need educating to keep their dogs on leads so that these lamb attacks cannot happen again.
He said: “There is no motive behind it but they often don’t understand that dogs are genetically designed to chase sheep. When we have a cliff face on the coast that causes lots of problems.”
Whilst the little lamb is going to make a full recovery, this can’t always be said for some of David’s lambs and sheep.
He said: “Some of the comments on the Facebook post had farmers saying that they would resort to shooting the dogs. But that is not the way forward. I don’t want to go around shooting people’s family pets.”
He said: “From my point of view, it’s just frustration that whenever it happens the owner will say that it’s the first time the dog has ever behaved like this. But it starts to wear thin when you’ve heard it for the fifth time this week.”
David has been a sheep farmer for 35 years and lives on his farm with his wife, son and daughters near Morte Point, which is owned by the National Trust.
David says the family are also upset with the recent increases in lamb attacks.
He said: “They are getting to the stage where they are nervous about telling me the news that another one has been attacked. We are farmers so we are used to life and death, we deal with those things all the time. But sometimes it does get you down.”
“It’s definitely getting worse, I have the added problem of being on a well-used walking path.
“Around half a dozen a year are killed, but so many more are hurt. The act of chasing alone is significant for a sheep, they can get stressed and end up aborting their lambs. This could cause septicaemia and worse.”
David, who appeared on Channel 5’s Mist Sheepdog Tales, says that when he meets with other farmers in the area the conversation always turns to lamb attacks.
He said: “We’ve come so far in communicating with people and building a bridge between farmers and non-farmers. I don’t want this to be a reason for an ‘us and them’. I just want people to learn.”
This is not the first time David has had such problems; two years ago, he received a call about a sheep that had fallen off the cliff after being chased by a dog, though he couldn’t originally find it.
After a second call, he returned to find the sheep at the bottom of an overhang.
He said: “It’s front two legs were snapped, and it had been lay there for two days.”
Although David does report these instances to the police, he says there is often no way of finding out who was involved in the lamb attacks.