A stark New Year warning has been issued to Pendle dog walkers who keep their pets off leads around livestock.
Police have said that farmers can shoot a dog that they believe to be a risk to their flock following an incident on Boxing Day morning.
Two men were spotted with their dogs in land on the outskirts of Trawden at around 9-45am. The dogs were seen chasing each other “in a frenzy”, before one ran up an embankment towards a field where sheep were grazing.
Dog walker and witness Amanda Cunningham (46) said: “I immediately shouted to one of the males to get his dog, as it was chasing the sheep.
“He bolted up the embankment, but by then it was too late, and by then the dog was running riot among the sheep.
“The other male who had a white American Bull type dog and managed to cajole it to him. Eventually after some minutes and calling his dog the other male returned with the chocolate Shar Pei dog.
“I expressed with great frustration, that the dogs should have been on leads and not chasing around out of control, they apologised, and I replied ‘What don’t you understand? Keep your dogs on the lead, sheep will be in lamb and it is an offence for them to be out of control like that’. I informed them that they were away from the footpath and shouldn’t be there anyway.
“I felt upset, angry and annoyed by their stupidity. In all my years, I have never known so many incidents of out-of-control dogs terrorising the sheep [in Trawden]. There seems to be lack of control from owners and training of their dogs around sheep is non-existent.”
No injuries have been reported and although one sheep was found dead, there is no evidence to suggest it was as a result of the incident.
One local farmer, who asked not to be named, urged dog walkers to follow the countryside code by keeping to the footpaths, and making sure dogs are on a lead. He added that the livelihoods of farmers is affected by any attack and how his sheep regularly huddle in a corner instead of grazing because so many dogs are being left off a lead.
PC Nigel Keates added: “It is a simple rule – put your dog on a lead, be observant, and be extremely vigilant.
“The farming community in that area have had enough.
“They have been given advice on shooting dogs that worry sheep – if a farmer believes their flock is at risk then they can turn a gun on that dog as they have that right.”
Anyone with information can contact 101 or ring Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.