The Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team say the incident on Sunday, March 13, is a stark illustration of the risk to both livestock and dogs.
Sergeant Rob Simpson said: “A dog broke free of its lead and went on to worry a number of sheep injuring one, leaving it with bite marks to its nose and under its chin. This horrific incident was witnessed by the owner who tried to recall the dog, but it wouldn’t return.
“Numerous attempts were made by the dog’s owner and the farmer who arrived on scene, before they were left with no other option. Again the action taken was witnessed by everyone present and it’s upsetting for all involved.”
He added: “This crime of worrying livestock is being dealt with by the attending officer and those involved.”
Sgt Simpson went on to reiterate the stance that it is every owner’s responsibility to control their dog, or they face the possibility of similar consequences in such incidents – as set out in legislation.
He said: “It is one of our most complained about social media lines, mainly because this subject can be very emotive. However it’s a message we stand by.
“No-one wants to shoot a family pet, but it’s clear in law that someone protecting their livestock have this option available to them.”
He added: “Ask yourself, if my dog broke free from its lead, am I happy that it will listen to my commands? Have I really got ‘control’? If you’re not sure, please keep it away from livestock, even if you’re using a lead.
“My thoughts in general and not specific to this sad incident, is that any dog under your control should be suitably trained before opting to rely on a lead when near livestock. Essentially, a lead shouldn’t be thought of as your primary control method.”
Estimates suggest around 15,000 sheep are killed each year in the UK by dogs, with many other attacks potentially unreported. Even where sheep are physically unharmed, the psychological stress can prove to be fatal or disrupt pregnancy.