Wiltshire Publications

Farmer’s stern warning to dog owners gets widespread support

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at 10:54 am.
Owen Singer and his sheep.

Owen Singer and his sheep.

A WESTBURY farmer has stressed that shooting unleashed dogs is a last resort, but says that he’s at his wits’ end following several attacks on his sheep.

Owen Singer from Penleigh Farm posted a strongly worded warning on Facebook on 1st January after four of his sheep were killed over Christmas and New Year.

He wrote, “I am asking for people to stay on the footpaths with dogs on the lead at all times, regardless of whether there are any sheep in the field.

“So in future all walkers will be asked to stay on the footpath and bridleway with dogs on the lead. Free roaming across the fields in whichever direction you want will cease, and  if your dog is not on a lead it will be shot.”

But Owen told the White Horse News that shooting someone’s pet is the last thing he wants to do. He said, “Obviously killing a dog is not something I would ever want to do, I’m a dog owner myself, but I have to think about the welfare of my sheep.

“I admit I wrote the post shortly after finding the dead sheep and I was very angry. I don’t ever want to shoot someone’s pet but if that is necessary, it would have to be done.

“Most of the time when we see a dog near the sheep, the owner is nearby and together we can get the dog under control, but if we can’t and the dog is attacking the sheep, I would have to take action.

“But it wouldn’t be as dramatic as people may think. For a start, I don’t carry a gun around with me. I would have to go back to the house and get one out of my locked gun cabinet. I would also have to call the police to warn them of what could happen. I want to stress that would be the last resort.”

Over 100 people commented on the post and it was shared 433 times.

Owen continued, “I didn’t expect this reaction. The post reached 48,000 and went as far as America which is incredible. Lots of farmers across the country have been in touch with me to let me know that  they also have the same problem and understand my reaction.

“Most of the reactions have been positive and supportive which I’m very pleased about. Some have been less supportive but I think some people misinterpreted what I said and I’ve since explained myself.

“This is a problem all over the country and people should be aware of what farmers are up against. I have a good relationship with most people who walk their dogs through the fields. I’ve never enforced the trespassing rules and have been lenient with the rules but this can’t go on.”

PC Charly Chilton from Wiltshire Police said, “Dog owners must keep their pets under control at all times, not only for the benefit of other animals, but for the safety of other people. It is an offence for a dog to worry livestock which includes attacking sheep, chasing them in a way that may cause injury or suffering.

“Dog attacks affect not only the livestock who are injured or killed, but the rest of the animals also suffer from the stress of the incident. It can be easily prevented by dog owners avoiding areas where there are sheep or cows and keeping their dogs on leads when passing these fields.

“Dogs should be kept in sight at all times and ensure that it does not stray off the path or area you have right of access to. Much farmland is private and anyone walking their dogs in these areas are trespassing.”

Owen added, “I have never been in the situation where I’ve had to shoot a dog and I hope I never will. My advice is, if you don’t think you would be able to call your dog back if it’s at a distance, then keep it on a lead.”