DOG ATTACK: Photos Ms Gaines shared of the sheep following the attack near Barnard Castle
DOG ATTACK: Photos Ms Gaines shared of the sheep following the attack near Barnard Castle

POLICE have renewed calls for dog owners to be more responsible when walking their pets in the countryside after a savage attack left one sheep dead and four others injured.

Holly Gaines shared photographs of the injured sheep which are kept on a farm at Westwick, near Barnard Castle, on social media.

Ms Gaines wrote: “Thank you to the irresponsible dog owner who made my heart break this morning. Barnard Castle area.

“One lamb put to sleep and another four treated with smaller injuries.”

The photographs show one of the bloodied sheep which had one of its rear legs ripped off.

Insp Ed Turner, of Barnard Castle Police, said: “These types of offences are quite rare fortunately, but this was a vicious attack.

“Dog owners have a personal responsibility to keep their dogs under control. Sheep worrying is an offence which we take very seriously and these kinds of attacks have a big effect on farmers.

“I would encourage anyone who has any information on this attack to get in touch either by ringing 101 or calling into the station in town. It is important to report these kinds of attacks so we can address them.”

Andrea Stephenson from Farm Watcher UK, an online community group which was set up four years ago to help tackle rural crime, said: “We are seeing a lot of more of these types of incidents every week.

“Last week we had a Shetland pony attacked and unfortunately it had to be put down.

“Normally it is sheep but instances of attacks are getting worse. I think the mind set that many dog owners have is that their dog is okay off the lead, but they have a problem recalling and getting their dogs back once they have the scent.

“W are putting together an information leaflet with four or five facts about the responsibilities dog owners have when they are out in the countryside to help them know the law. We should have that available within a week or so.”

Ms Stephenson, who is based in Weardale and is from a farming background, said farmers sometimes don’t report attacks on their sheep to the police as they “don’t think they can do anything”.