Warning: This story contains an image that some readers may find upsetting.
A Somerset farmer has spoken out after his sheep was mauled to death by a dog yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, May 25). Tom Wheeler, who lives near Norton St Philip, found his animal dead on Wellow Lane.
He said the ewe had likely died from shock, after having his hind end bitten and chewed while he was still alive. Mr Wheeler urged dog owners to “be aware” of how quickly things could go wrong and reminded them to keep their pets on a lead when around livestock.
The farmer added that he, and two members of staff, had been left badly shaken by the incident and had to stop work early yesterday. Losing a healthy ewe was also a financial hit, Mr Wheeler explained, and he will now have to pay for its disposal.
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He said: “At 4.15pm yesterday afternoon, my next-door neighbour, who’s 14, was walking along Wellow Lane with his grandfather. He phoned me and he said ‘one of your sheep has got out’.
“I thought ‘that’s weird’, because he and I had spent the previous day putting a really good fence in. But I said ‘can you put it back?’ and so he did that. At the time, I wondered if it was someone else’s sheep because I couldn’t understand why it would be in the lane.
“Then, at 4.50pm, he phoned again and he said ‘we’ve just come across one of your dead sheep in the lane’. He said ‘it’s bleeding and it looks like it’s been bitten’.”
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“So I jumped in the truck and drove down there as fast as I could. When I arrived, I saw the road was covered in blood and the sheep had been really badly bitten and chewed – probably by a dog.”
Mr Wheeler said he did not see any dogs or their owners nearby. However, he explained that – due to the amount of blood the ewe had lost – “someone somewhere” would know their pet had been up to no good.
“There was blood all over the sheep, all over the road, and all over me when I lifted it into the truck, so somebody must have a dog that has come back covered in blood.
“My theory is that one of the sheep jumped through the fence when the dog was chasing it and another one tried to jump through after it and got stuck. Then it has been there for maybe half an hour while this dog – or dogs – chewed its hind end to smithereens
“Eventually, it got itself free and fell into the lane, where it must have died of shock because it had no other injuries. It doesn’t bear thinking about the suffering it would have gone through,” the farmer said.
He added that if he had sold the ewe at market yesterday, he would have fetched £140. So, he has lost that sum and will have to fork out around £30 for the animal’s disposal.
There is a “very small” right of way leading across the field where the sheep are kept, Mr Wheeler explained. However, he said he did not believe the dog had come from the path.
“I think maybe someone’s dog has got out or something, but I really don’t know. I’m not sure what else I can do. I would just like to urge people to be more aware of where their dogs are and to keep them on leads around livestock,” he said.
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