A COMMONER has hit out at dog owners who have “no control” over their animals after one of his family’s pregnant ewes sustained horrific injuries in an attack by a Rottweiler.
The sheep, which was heavily pregnant with twins, had to be put down after the Bramshaw sheep attack at around 6.30am on Monday at Penn Common.
Commoner Nathan Coutts (22) told the A&T: “My dad was just coming down the road and he saw blood all over the cattle grid and trailing up the road. The ewe literally had her jaw hanging off – there was blood everywhere.
“The injuries were so terrible that she would not have been able to breathe or eat. She had to be put down and as she was carrying two lambs, we lost them as well.”
Along with his father Adam and brother Luke, Nathan has a small flock of 30 sheep which are grazed on the National Trust-owned Penn Common. The family are commoners who have been using the area to graze their livestock for generations.
The latest attack is the fifth by dogs in recent months, and on each occasion the pregnant ewe was so badly mauled they had to be put to sleep.
Nathan said: “The problem is that I see people walking on the common all the time and they are on their phones with their dogs running 400 or 500 metres ahead. They have no idea what their animals are doing and are not in control at all.
“Unfortunately, it is just in the breeding of some dogs. It is their instinct to go for the throat and face and once they have taken the sheep down they will rip their stomachs and intestines out.
“We know that it was a Rottweiler that attacked the latest sheep, but when we went and spoke to the owner she just said, ‘I have to go to work, I’ll deal with it later’.
“Anyone that can allow their pet to maul an animal like that and not immediately contact the farmer cannot call themselves an animal lover. That sheep was suffering horrifically.”
Photos of the injuries sustained by the sheep have been shared widely on social media.
In her post, family friend Gemma Maughan said: “This is a horrible experience for a commoner to go through!”
The law states that dogs must be kept on leads when they are using footpaths across farmland, but these restrictions to not apply to the New Forest Commons.
However, the national park authority has developed a code of practice which states dog owners should ensure their pets do not chase or attack livestock, deer or any other wildlife.
It also advises animals should be kept in close sight at all times and should be walked on a lead when necessary.
Nathan said: “The problem is that once dogs have got a taste for attacking animals they won’t stop – they have tasted blood and then they are uncontrollable.
“It is important for dog owners to be aware of sheep all year round but no one seems to listen or take the commoners views into account. Every year we have lambs killed in dog attacks.
“If people can’t respect the traditions of the Forest and commoning then they shouldn’t come here – the sheep have a purpose to graze the commons and without them the whole area would be overgrown.”
Earlier this month, NFU Mutual, which provides insurance for farmers, launched a new campaign called Take the Lead to highlight the impact of dog attacks on livestock.
In the last four years, livestock worth £400,000 has been lost in dog attacks in the south-east region, which covers Hampshire.
A spokesperson for Hampshire Police said: “We are aware of an incident that happened on the morning of Monday 25th March when a sheep was injured by a dog on Penn Common.
“The dog and its owner have been identified and officers are liaising with all parties involved. The matter is ongoing at this time.”