The Silence Of The Ewes

Sheep farmers need more help to protect their flocks from this carnage which is happening on a daily basis across the UK. Look at that poor beast! A benign animal, torn up ‘for fun’ by an uncontrolled domestic dog and watched (no doubt) by a distressed owner who hadn’t taught basic recall commands to Fido. Yet saw fit to let the hooligan run unleashed on land containing sheep ‘in-lamb’.

Farmers have the right to shoot a dog attempting this sort of attack, but the farmer can’t be everywhere and certainly won’t always have a gun to hand. If they shoot an errant dog in front of the owner, they risk serious conflict and accusations. There needs to be a seriously robust deterrent to such incidents. The dogs are not to blame. There is the wolf gene in every dog. They are doing what comes naturally. Shooters, keepers, farmers and true country folk all train their dogs diligently to ignore livestock. Joe Public doesn’t.

What did the owner of the dog responsible for this attack do afterwards? I bet they didn’t alert the farmer and (having eventually got their dog back) took the ‘cowards shuffle’ back to their motor looking over their shoulder. Sickening.

So what should we do? Compulsory ‘leash’ laws won’t work. I walked around a Nature Reserve recently and bumped into a couple ignoring the ‘dogs on leads’ rule. Their two black labs charged my leashed lurcher. “Oh, it’s ok! They’re harmless!” That’s the mentality we’re up against. Complete denial of natural instinct. I feel that the law should be weighted heavily against the dog owner (and I am a dog owner too). A dog of a certain size has the capability to maim and kill. We have seen this, sadly, in the press too frequently. Not just livestock but other dogs and even children. “The capability to maim and kill”. Does that ring a bell, folks? It does to us gun owners … who generally have the most impeccably trained dogs in the UK.

As I hinted earlier, the solution here has to lie with ownership, not the dogs. Look at that picture again, if you can stomach it. I would ban the dogs keeper from ownership for life, if caught. As for evidential prosecution, mobile trail cameras are low cost now. How about free issue via DEFRA? Let’s catch, prosecute and publicise irresponsible owners … as we do drink-drivers.

Copyright, Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, March 2018

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