Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Escaped dog killed my lambs

A SHEEP farmer says she is heartbroken after two of her lambs were killed by an escaped dog.

A SHEEP farmer says she is heartbroken after two of her lambs were killed by an escaped dog.

Tracy “Bill” Betteridge, who runs Chiltern Lamb, found a scene of devastation after the white Husky went on the rampage in the field in Hambleden where she keeps her flock on Thursday last week.

The dog, which had escaped from a flat in Marlow earlier that day, chased the sheep before catching the two Shetland lambs and shaking them to death.

The dog was caught by a friend of Miss Betteridge, who locked it in a shed before calling her at the farmers’ market in Henley, where she was selling her meat.

Miss Betteridge, 43, from Nuffield, said: “My friend saw the dog run into the field and yelled at it but it picked up the two lambs and shook them like rats until they were dead

“I charged back and found the mother of the two lambs beside herself. All the mothers were traumatised. It is the saddest thing to hear ewes bleating and calling for their lambs. It is truly heartbreaking.

“I’m lucky in some ways that my friend was there. Had nobody been in the field I dread to think of the devastation. Some of my best ewes would probably have been killed.”

One of her rare Devon and Cornwall longwool ewes, whic was pregnant, died the following day from stress.

Miss Betteridge took the dog to a vet’s practice in Marlow, which traced the owner. It had recently been rehomed by a rescue centre in the town.

She said: “The owner said she was sorry and the dog wouldn’t normally do that. I told her to either rehome the dog or destroy it but she hasn’t done either and the police have told her to keep it on a lead and muzzle. As far as I’m concerned, that’s irresponsible.

“It just shows how careful one has to be in rehoming large dogs. Huskies are only one step away from wolves. It is unrealistic to home that type of dog with an owner who lives in a flat in Marlow and who is not able to control the dog 24 hours a day.

“Pet owners will maintain that their dogs are ‘only playing’ when they chase sheep. Maybe they would like to come and see the bodies of these baby lambs or listen to the ewes bleating for their lambs.

“Dog owners must take responsibility for their dogs — they can be killing machines. Sheep are defenceless creatures and are particularly vulnerable at this time of the year with young lambs at foot.”

Miss Betteridge has been paid compensation by the dog owner but says the incident will affect her business.

She said: “This disaster has had a huge impact on Chiltern Lamb and my plans for the future.

“Those lambs would have grown to be breeding ewes or good meat carcasses eventually. Inevitably, many of the flock are destined for meat eventually.

“My business ethos is, and has always been, to give my sheep the best possible life. That does not include being attacked, terrified and killed by stray dogs.”

In 2013, one of Miss Betteridge’s pregnant ewes was killed in a mystery attack in Fawley. The ewe, a rare Welsh badger face, was five weeks away from giving birth.

Miss Betteridge said the injuries were so severe that she didn’t know if they were inflicted by a dog or a person. The ewe, called Coco, died the following day.

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