As part of an awareness campaign with North Yorkshire Police, farmer Stuart Raw spoke about the stress he faces of seeing dogs running around farmland, while officers warned owners could be prosecuted should their pet injure livestock.
Mr Raw said: “I’ve had sheep which have been torn to bits and left alive, and they have gaping wounds all over their body from dogs. I panic every weekend, going to the farm and finding people with dogs tearing round the sheep.”
His warning comes as more people are walking dogs in rural areas as lockdown restrictions lift, and with a sunny Bank Holiday weekend on the horizon.
North Yorkshire Police have been supplying stocks of warning posters to farmers to put up on gates and near livestock fields.
Officers from the force's neighbourhood policing teams and its Rural Task Force have also been talking to dog walkers in areas where livestock worrying has occurred, to ensure everyone understands the importance of keeping dogs on leads and under control.
Dog walkers are also being shown photographs of the terrible injuries a dog can inflict on a sheep where appropriate.
PCSO Andy Birkinshaw of North Yorkshire Police’s rural task force said: “Farmers, vets and police colleagues know all too well the horrific injuries sheep can suffer as a result of dog attacks. It’s a horrible thing to witness, but it can be avoided simply by dog owners taking responsibility for their pets.”
PC Mark Atkinson, who also works for the rural task force, added: “Any dog, no matter how well behaved, can get out of control when off the lead around livestock. It just isn’t worth the risk. The dog owner may find themselves prosecuted for criminal damage, and tragically the dog itself may lose its life, due to the negligence of its owner.
“Livestock worrying doesn’t just include sheep and limbs being bitten – when a dog chases a sheep around a field, ewes may abort their lambs, or they may die due to a crush, or the stress.
“The answer to all this is simple – keep your dog on a lead, and under control, anywhere near livestock.”