A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Ilfracombe girl is appealing to dog owners to control their pets after her sheep died following a dog attack.
Sarah Stevens’ sheep Mr Albert was put down after it was mauled in Lee on Sunday by a Staffordshire terrier-type dog.
Sarah’s parents are part-time farmers and own a field at the back of the Grampus Inn, where they keep sheep.
Since the death of Mr Albert, who was given to Sarah by her parents as a present for helping out with lambing, she has made a sign to go on the field gate asking owners to keep their dogs on leads.
Sarah said: “I miss him and am so sad he had to be put to sleep by Jenny the vet as he was so badly hurt.
“I cried a lot when I saw his poor face.”
Mr Albert’s face was left “hanging off” following the incident, according to Sarah’s mother Ann.
Ann said: “We were on our way home when we got a call from a lady who has a holiday home next to our field.
“She said a Staffordshire-type dog had attacked our sheep and the owners had gone into the pub.”
The distraught family drove to Lee where they saw the dog owner walking away from the Grampus.
Ann confronted the owner: “He said his dog had never done anything like this before, but it’s common sense – it should never have been off the lead near livestock.”
Ann said her daughter was finding the death difficult to deal with.
She said: “She’s been hysterical. The damage that dog did was horrendous.”
Police officer Malcolm Kirk, who was called to the incident, said an investigation was under way.
He said: “This appears to have been a terrible accident with a dog which was well kept. Dog owners need to be aware there is always the potential dogs will at the very least worry sheep, and they should be kept on leads where livestock are running free.”
A NATIONAL Farmers’ Union adviser has called on dog owners to take more responsibility for their pets’ behaviour, following the death of Mr Albert.
NFU communications adviser Ian Johnson said dogs attacks on livestock were a common problem but insisted breed was irrelevant to how much of a threat a dog was to sheep.
He said: “A dog’s instinct is to run after anything that moves so the best thing to do is keep your dog under control.
“It’s the owner who needs to take responsibility.”
Mr Johnson said dogs being allowed to run free near livestock was often problematic, adding: “I’ve heard of sheep being pushed into the corner of a field and suffocating and it’s common for dogs to chase sheep off cliffs.
“The breed of the dog is inconsequential.
“Any breed has the instinct to chase and rogue sheepdogs can be the worst culprits.
Mr Johnson said people should consider the responsibility which comes with dog ownership.
He said:“If they’re not responsible enough to control them they shouldn’t have them.”