A SHEEP farmer from Charvil is warning dog owners of their responsibilities after his flock was attacked last month.

George Pierce, of Land's End Farm, has been left devastated after one of his young Wensleydale sheep was savaged by a dog, which was on his land illegally, on Saturday, April 21.

The farmer, who raises the valuable sheep for their wool, said people walk across his land to get to Ashenbury Park, even though there is no public right of way.

Thankfully, the one-year-old sheep survived the ordeal, but has been left incredibly injured from the attack.

Mr Pierce said: "I didn't know what had happened until a neighbour of mine banged on my door to say a dog was killing my sheep.

"I ran out to see what was happening, and one of the young lads who helps out on the farm had caught the dog and put it in a kennel. I called the vet and the police, who turned up at the same time as the owner.

"They denied everything, they said it couldn't possibly have been their dog, but we had witnesses who saw it happen."

Mr Pierce wanted to put the dog down there and then, but was advised against such action by the police.

He said: "As a farmer, it is my right to shoot a dog on my land, especially if it has attacked my livestock. But the police officer wanted a quiet life I think so he told me not to.

"We don't know if this dog will come back again. We are scared to let our sheep and lambs outside onto our land now because we fear the dog will come back.

"People think their dogs are safe and wouldn't attack another animal, but it only takes one time for it to happen, and the dog will get a taste for it. Then it could attack another dog, or even a child."

Mr Pierce said he wants dog owners to be aware of the consequences of letting their dogs run off the lead around livestock.

He said: "People don't realise how damaging it can be, especially during lambing season, but their dogs can do serious harm. They chase the pregnant ewes round and round until they drop down dead.

"Dog owners need to keep their dogs on their leads at all times when walking on land as they don't know what livestock may be around.

"The dog owner has accepted liability and we are sending our vet bills to them, it will be very costly as the vet has had to come out quite a few times already. The poor sheep has had great chunks of meat and wool torn off. It's still in a very bad way, but it is alive for now.

"By having to keep our sheep and lambs inside the barn, we feel like we are being penalised when we haven't done anything wrong."

Veterinarian Charlotte Plummer, from NorCal Vets in Thame who is treating the sheep said: "Unfortunately we do see attacks like this quite regularly at this time of year. Attacks can range from simply chasing the sheep around the field, to physical attacks where the sheep are bitten.

"The consequences can be very serious as the sheep could be killed, or if the ewes are pregnant it can lead to abortions of the lambs.

"On this occasion, I think the sheep will make a full recovery, we were worried for a few days as the wounds were not healing as they should, but we are keeping an eye on her and fingers crossed she will be ok."

Sheep worrying is an offence in England and Wales under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, and dog owners can be fined or even imprisoned if their animal is found to be worrying livestock.

For more information on how to keep your dog and other animals safe, visit www.nationalsheep.org.uk/dog-owners.