A RETIRED farmer has been left distraught after his sheep were attacked by a large animal, thought to be a dog.

William Cook, of Potterston Farm, Dalrymple, was shocked when he found a number of his sheep, kept in a field in Hollybush, with deep marks up their backs with “chunks” taken out of their necks on the morning of Wednesday, October 2.

Speaking to the Ayr Advertiser, Mr Cook, said: “Sheep worrying is becoming quite common as there has been a lot of cases with dogs worrying the sheep. 

Ayr Advertiser:

“Even though we know it is dogs doing this, we have to catch them in the field doing the act otherwise we can’t do anything drastic.

“It is in the farmers right to shoot a dog if it is caught worrying the animals, but you can’t say unless it is caught in the act.

“I do have high suspicions about what has done this – I have a feeling it could be the same dogs that did this to the flock 18 months ago – it was Alsatians that did it the last time. 

“Only a big dog could have done the damage that has been done.

“The vet came out and sorted out the sheep that had been hurt but I have had to put down two of my sheep because they were so severely damaged, and the vet said that they were suffering.

“I will be moving my sheep today (Thursday, October 2) so this doesn’t happen again.”

According to the National Sheep Association, under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, if a dog worries sheep on farming land, the owner of the said dog, is guilty of an offence.

They explain: “It is an offence to allow a dog to worry sheep. 

“Worrying includes attacking or chasing sheep and, in some circumstances, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep.

“It is vital that you keep your dog on the lead around livestock, even if you can usually trust it to come to call. 

“If you live in or near a farming area, you must make sure that your dog cannot escape from your property, as it may find its way onto land containing sheep.”

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) offers guidance for people enjoying the countryside with their dogs and states: “In exercising access rights, you must keep your dog(s) under proper control.

“And you must also ensure that your dog does not worry livestock.”