Lancing farmer backs calls for law to be changed on dog walking after ‘horrific attack’ on ewe

A Lancing farmer is supporting calls for changes to the law on dog walking.

It comes after one of his ewes was ‘horrifically attacked’ by two dogs on Easter Sunday.

Hugh Passmore, who owns Applesham Farm in Coombes, Lancing said: “It was a pretty horrific attack and the ewe had to be put down by the vet because her injuries were too severe.”

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The 50-year-old, who lives at the farm with his wife, Sara, and daughter, Jessica, said he was turning out ewes and lambs when the ‘commotion’ started.

Hugh Passmore, who owns Applesham Farm in Coombes, Lancing

“Two dogs were attacking her – it was pretty horrific to see,” he said, adding that a police investigation was underway.

It is not the first time there has been a dog attack at Hugh’s farm. Back in 2015, a sheep had to be put down after suffering ‘sickening’ injuries in a vicious attack.

The five-year-old pedigree was discovered by Hugh while he carried out his daily morning checks at the farm.

And attacks are happening too often, said Hugh, adding: “There are a lot of attacks out there. It’s not just us.”

He said it was important to get the message out to the public about keeping dogs on leads when near livestock.

“The majority are fine but these attacks are still happening,” added Hugh.

“It is not a new problem, but for some reason the message is still not getting across.”

Hugh, who was shortlisted for an award at last year’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Conference, has written to MP Tim Loughton setting out proposed changes to the law by the NFU.

The NFU said it understands the Government is considering amending the 1953 Dogs Protection of Livestock Act to address livestock worrying and promote responsible dog ownership.

It added that it has worked with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and has secured changes to the Government’s Countryside Code, which, last week, was given its first refresh in more than a decade.

“The NFU has also expressed concern with Natural England and Defra that there is a distinct need for more targeted communications around responsible and respectful access, especially to new visitors to the countryside,” said a spokesman.

“We have asked that NE and Defra use social media platforms to help to promote the Countryside Code as widely as possible. We will be reporting back to Defra and NE on the success of its planned messaging campaign around the relaunch of the revised code.”

Last week, Mark Chandler, West Sussex NFU chairman, said dogs being kept under control was a key issue which needed highlighting.

The code states: “On open access land and at the coast, you must put your dog on a lead around livestock.

“Between March 1 and July 31, you must have your dog on a lead on open access land, even if there is no livestock on the land. These are legal requirements.”

Mr Chandler said the NFU was getting reports every week of sheep worrying incidents caused by dogs running off the lead.

He said most dog owners did not expect their pets to react to livestock in a way which caused a problem – but by that time it was usually too late.

“I think you should keep dogs on leads at all times,” he said.

“There is no excuse. It is a recipe for disaster.”

The NFU has made a video with dog maestro and trainer Graeme Hall, to help get the message across. It can be watched via: