POLICE in Burnley have launched a dedicated operation to combat sheep worrying after dog attacks left two sheep dead and three seriously injured.
Operation Flock will see officers carry out increased patrols in rural areas to reassure farmers and educate dog owners.
This comes after farmers in the Hurstwood area reported concerns about dogs worrying, chasing and attacking their sheep. The latest incident resulted in sheep being pursued and attacked leaving them with horrendous injuries. One sheep was so frightened it ran into deep water where it is believed to have drowned or died from its injuries.
Community Beat Manager PC Fran Fleming said: “Allowing a dog to attack a sheep can have serious penalties, including large fines and even imprisonment for dog owners, or those in control of a dog.
“Apart from the distress and harm the animals are suffering there is the financial loss with each sheep and its lambs, which are worth up to £120. There are also the vet’s fees for any animals that need treatment.
“Farmers have the right to shoot any dog which is worrying or attacking their animals. By worrying we don’t just mean attacking the animals physically but running after them and chasing them around especially when they are all carrying young lambs.
“I urge dog owners to act responsibly and keep their dog under control and on a lead at all times. Dog walkers should ensure that any gates they pass through are closed securely behind them. We cannot stress enough how important this is as animals will stray from the field they are in if gates are left open.
“Fortunately most dog owners are very responsible and it is only the few exceptions that are causing issues for farmers in the local area.”
Local farmer Michael Holmes added: “Most dog owners are in denial that their dog will not chase and attack sheep or any other animal for that matter but unfortunately they will – after all most dogs still have a bit of wolf in them.”
Anyone with information or concerns about dogs causing problems – in particular this latest incident, can contact police on 101 Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.