We have had several cases of sheep attacks over the years. The worst and most easily avoidable was that of a young family who bought a house on the neighbouring farm. The family owned an Alsatian and a Jack Russell, both of which were allowed to roam at will. In response to pleas to keep them under control, I was told that this was 'wild' country and the dogs were 'just out rabbiting'.

Inevitably these two dogs, bored and left to their own devices day after day, turned on my sheep. Over the course of a two-week period they killed seven ewes in total and at one point drove a lot of 100 ewe lambs into the river. These lambs were supposed to be sold later in the week, but we obviously had to abandon that due to the highly stressed condition they were in.

Remonstrations with the family achieved nothing. At no point was any apology forthcoming, nor was any offer of compensation made. At the time the sheep would have been worth about £50 each, so the financial damage was not huge. However, even a token gesture would have gone a long way towards resolving matters.

Eventually, after consulting with the police and a local Justice of the Peace, I wrote to the family concerned to say I would have no option but to shoot the dogs if I found them in amongst my livestock again. I really did not want to do this as they were obviously family pets, and as a dog owner myself it would have been a very difficult thing to do. To their credit, they did eventually find a home for the Alsatian. The Jack Russell remained but, due to advanced age, became less of a problem.

Happily, these instances are sporadic and infrequent. However, the same family now has a young Jack Russell which, once again, is allowed to wander all over the place. We have had to take it back home several times. It seems some people will just never learn.