It’s a horrible thought, and many devoted dog owners are reluctant to admit it, but family pets can and do attack sheep.
And as farmers are permitted by law to shoot a dog if it is threatening livestock, the end result could be a dead dog as well as dead sheep.
So it is absolutely essential for all concerned, farmers, sheep, dogs and owners, to understand the law, and the nature of animals.
During a recent meeting of Quainton parish council it was noted that a farmer has recently had 23 sheep killed and many injured by dogs, and on one occasion two black Labradors were identifed as the culprits.
On our own farm we have seen such incidents over the years and my pet ewe died and aborted triplets following a dog attack on the flock.
Isobel Bretherton from the National Farmers Union said: “At this time of year ewes have young lambs and pregnant ewes are likely to abort if chased by dogs.
“The majority of dog owners are responsible but we’d still ask people to keep their dog on a lead rather than letting them run freely because there may well be livestock nearby.
“Whatever their temperament, dogs have a chase instinct that is triggered by the sight or movement of farm animals.
“Owners forget that the friendly family pet can turn wolf and dogs can inflict the most terrible injuries on sheep which often result in death. Dog attacks on livestock should be avoided at all costs as they can also end in tragedy for a dog owner because the law allows farmers to shoot dogs that are threatening livestock.”