This is an archived press release

Monday 26 July 2004

26 July 2004


The National Park Authority and a local dog owner have joined forces to urge dog walkers in the Peak District to keep their pets under control to protect sheep and wildlife following an incident which led to the death of a lamb.

The attack took place on land owned by the National Park Authority on its Eastern Moors Estate at Curbar Edge, near Baslow, when a local man was exercising his parent's pet. The dog, a rescued German shepherd-cross called Skippy, was off the lead at the time of the attack - the dog walker having ignored warning notices asking people to keep dogs on leads during lambing time and the bird breeding season.

A lamb was injured and a passing rambler, who witnessed the attack, caught the dog and alerted the police. The lamb was later put down by vets.

Chris Manby, Conservation Properties Manager for the National Park Authority, said, "Dog walkers are very welcome in the Peak District but this attack highlights what can happen if dogs are allowed to run free on land where there're sheep. We understand that dogs such as Skippy are much loved family pets but owners need to be aware that animal instincts can quickly take over resulting in sheep being chased or attacked which usually results in the death of the farm animal through shock or injury.

"Skippy's owners are a local family who live and work in the countryside and know that dogs can cause harm to sheep. We understand that it can be tempting to let your dog run free but this case proves how disastrous that can be when sheep are around."

Skippy's owner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: "We never intended to cause any harm or distress to anyone or any animal. It all happened very quickly and we are very sorry that the lamb died. We have contacted the farmer and offered to replace the lamb with another lamb and a ewe and pay the vets fees.

"We will not let Skippy off the lead again when we see warning notices or if we think sheep are about. We want other dog owners to learn from our mistake. We love animals and this whole incident has been very upsetting and stressful for us - we want to prevent anyone else going through this ordeal by getting the message across to people that if everyone keeps their dogs under control at all times, and on a lead when required to do so, then sheep and wild animals will not be harmed."

The National Park Authority, as landowner, contacted the police about the case which could have led to charges being brought against the dog's owners. In this instance, the Authority and the owners agreed to make an example of the case with the aim of urging all dog owners to be responsible and keep their dogs under control.

The maximum penalty for the offence of a dog killing livestock is a £1000 fine.

Safeguarding farmers' interests is important but people's safe enjoyment of the countryside is a major concern to the National Park Authority as well, as Chris Manby explained: "We want people to understand that livestock can be unpredictable, particularly cows with calves or boisterous young cattle. Dog walkers must use their judgement - if chased or fearful of attack it is safer to let the dog fend for itself and get yourself out of possible danger."

With just weeks to go before more open country in the Peak District is made accessible to the public under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, the National Park Authority is keen to ensure that people are aware of their rights and responsibilities so that the countryside can be enjoyed safely by all. Advice is contained in the new national Countryside Code, available from Information Centres, which includes a section especially for dog walkers.

This is an archived press release

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