Rachel McMaster

Surrey

My flock was attacked by a boxer dog, which injured four of my pedigree sheep. The sheep suffered horrible injuries, including lost ears, shattered skulls, holes in the nostrils and a section of bone torn from the side of the face. Although they’ve survived they will all suffer long term effects of the attack and the kindest thing to do now is to send them for slaughter rather than keeping them for any longer. Some of the sheep are now deaf on one side and so prone to panic, and one can only breathe through one side of its face. We don’t know what impact some of their injuries will have on their balance, and they might be plagued by flies. One of the ewes was pregnant when the attack happened and is due to lamb soon. It’s lucky that she didn’t abort the lambs, but we will just have to hope that they are healthy and not born mummified as a result of the attack.

The total cost of the attack to me has been about £3,000, including vets bills, medication and nursing time. This is a blow to my young business, but it isn’t just about the money. Dog attacks are not just stressful for the sheep, they’re stressful and heart-breaking for the farmer. I love my animals. They each have their place in the flock – mine even have names – and to find animals that I care for every day in that state was devastating.

I would ask dog owners to please keep dogs on a lead around sheep and under proper control. 99% of dog owners are responsible people who keep proper control of their dog, but there is a small minority who don’t. People don’t always realise what their dog is capable of, but instinct can take over – sheep run and it’s natural for dogs to chase.

Rachel with one of her flock.
Rachel with one of her flock.
One of Rachel's sheep, scarred after the attack.
One of Rachel's sheep, scarred after the attack.
A ewe with injuries to the face.
A ewe with injuries to the face.