Farmer warns dogs will be shot if they attack sheep
A Chilcompton farmer is warning dog owners that their pets will be shot if they are found attacking sheep in his fields.
Dave Ruddock has placed warning signs around his land after one of his rams had to be rescued from the ponds in The Street area of the village.
His neighbour Rob Keyworth jumped into the river to put a rope round the ram's neck so it could be pulled under a bridge and out of the river before being escorted back up the valley.
The warning comes as farmers approach the lambing season, and Mr Ruddock said: "I do not want to shoot someone's pet but dogs found straying and worrying my sheep will be shot."
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He said the incident that has made him consider taking such drastic action involved an attack on two rams and a ewe last week in which the animals were chased by dogs.
Mr Ruddock said: "The rams are part of a flock of 60 sheep that I keep in a field in Chilcompton and the dogs were being walked off leads.
"When you sit up all night helping ewes with their lambs this sort of thing is hard to take. Dog owners must keep their pets on leads when walking in the fields."
His plea is being echoed by farmer Andrew Coombes, who last year lost sheep through dog attacks.
Mr Coombes is warning of a threat that comes from joggers who run across the fields with their pets off leads.
He said: "There is a trend with runners allowing their dogs off leads. When this happens the dog is in hunting mode."
Police are also reminding people to act responsibly when walking dogs in fields near or containing livestock and to keep them on a lead.
Radstock sergeant Geoff Cannon said that during the lambing season this was particularly important.
Sgt Cannon said: "Last year Radstock police dealt with a number of incidents where sheep were attacked and received horrific injuries resulting in financial loss and distress to farmers.
"This is a serious offence and anyone found guilty of allowing a dog to attack sheep or other animals is liable to be fined and the dog may be destroyed by order of a court."