WARNING: This story contains graphic images. A farmer is urging dog walkers to keep control of their animals after a number of sheep were violently killed at a Polegate farm this morning (Tuesday, February 28).
Peter Sandgrave, who owns the sheep at Nightingale Farm, in Hailsham Road, said he had a call to say two dogs were chasing his sheep.
He discovered eight heavily pregnant ewes brutally killed and around eight more still alive but with fatal injuries.
He said, “It was horrific. It’s a shock, really a total shock.
“It’s hard to put words to it.
“I wouldn’t have thought a dog would have been capable of this.
“But it’s not necessarily the dog’s fault, it’s the owners’.
“Please keep your dogs on a lead, this is what can happen if you don’t.
“I don’t think people understand the damage that can be caused.”
So close to lambing season, Mr Sandgrove says the farm has potentially lost between £2,000-£4,000.
Due to the severe distress caused, many of the ewes that did survive may miscarry.
Nightingale Farm fields back onto the Cuckoo Trail where a lot of people walk their dogs.
According to Lou Paul, who owns the farm, a neighbour saw a rottweiler and a smaller brown dog chasing the animals.
He said, “I just feel it is vital that these dogs are contained and the owners found as they’re clearly extremely dangerous.
“I worry for my children to even go down there now!”
Sergeant Tom Carter, wildlife and rural crime lead for Sussex Police, said, “Sadly a number of sheep and their unborn lambs have been killed by these dogs and it is estimated the farmer will have lost around £3,000.
“The dogs were not seen close enough but it is believed there was one black dog and one tan coloured dog.
“Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act it is a criminal offence to let a dog worry sheep and owners or handlers risk being fined.
“We ask that if you are walking your dog in an area where livestock is kept, please keep them on a lead and under control.
“A landowner is able to shoot a dog that they believe is worrying sheep – and that includes if they are running after them or chasing them, not necessarily physically attacking them.
“At this time of year, most ewes are in lamb and stress caused by dogs can cause them to abort. Even the most docile of pets can turn killer and even the best behaved of dogs can become uncontrollable.
“Don’t walk your pet away from where you are permitted to be and always be aware of livestock – it may not be in sight, perhaps hidden by vegetation or the lie of the land.”
Anyone who saw what happened is asked to contact police online to www.sussex.police.uk/contact-us/response-to-appeal/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting serial 276 of 28/02.