United Utilities issues warning after spate of dog attacks on sheep

According to United Utilities, the problem of sheep worrying has got 'significantly worse'
According to United Utilities, the problem of sheep worrying has got 'significantly worse'

Ten sheep have been killed by an out-of-control dog on a Lancashire farm near a major reservoir triggering water company United Utilities to issue out a warning.

Dog walkers are being urged to keep their pets under control when they’re walking in the countryside around Rivington Reservoir after ten sheep were killed at a local farm.

North West water company, United Utilities, owns and maintains the land around the reservoir, and the sheep belong to its tenant farmer Megan Needham of Higher Knoll Farm, Bolton.

Ms Needham has called on dog walkers to keep their animals on a lead when they’re crossing fields.

“I’m a dog lover myself,” she said. “I’m not telling dog owners to stop walking their dogs in the countryside, I’m just asking them to be respectful when crossing farm fields and put their dogs on a lead as they may not know there are sheep in there.

“The size of the dog has no bearing on the amount of damage they can do. If a ewe that’s carrying a lamb is chased by a dog, they could get so stressed that they abort the lamb or die of shock.”



According to United Utilities, the problem of livestock worrying has got 'significantly worse' recently and leaves farmers feeling 'traumatic'.

Dan Fowler, land agent at United Utilities, said: “Extra signs have been put up around Rivington reservoir and our staff and farm tenants will be reporting all offenders to the local police.

“It’s a criminal offence to allow a dog to attack and maim livestock and if found guilty the dog owners could face prosecution and have their dog seized and destroyed.

“Dogs chasing and worrying sheep is an issue across other areas of our estate, it isn’t just limited to the Rivington area. If you are walking your dog in the countryside please obey the law and keep your dog under control,” he added

The warning comes as a new survey reveals that almost a quarter of dog owners have reported that their pet has chased animals, including livestock.

The survey, carried out as part of the RSPCA's #DogKind campaign, shows that 24% of dog owners reported that their dogs had chased other animals, and of those only 29% sought help - prompting the charity to urge owners to take extra care.

This month, a woman was given a criminal behaviour order after her dog frightened a flock of around 200 sheep in Dorset.