Young farmer’s heartache over flock attacks

Stephen Short, 20, has only two commercial sheep left after being forced to sell the flock
Stephen Short, 20, has only two commercial sheep left after being forced to sell the flock

A young farmer has been forced to make a heartbreaking decision to sell a flock of sheep after a spate of dog attacks.

Stephen Short, 20, of High Cliff Farm, Southowram, said he has been left “deeply saddened” by the decision.

His farm is surrounded by a network of footpaths and Mr Short says there’s a lack of understanding of how dangerous dogs can be.

He said: “Even if the dog is just running about and a sheep doesn’t get hurt, it scares them and they can abort their lambs.

“I’ve been talking to farmers all over the country and it’s all over. There’s a lack of understanding of what people think their dogs can and can’t do.

“It was becoming unprofitable and unsustainable to keep the flock as we were.”

His decision to sell the commercial flock of sheep has been made all the more difficult as he spent 10 years building it up.

“I bought my first sheep when I was 10 years old - I saved my egg money up and built them up to over 100. It has been heartbreaking,” Mr Short said.

“It got to the point where there was an incident a week, where somebody’s dog was chasing them.”

Sending a message out to dog owners, Mr Short said: “I don’t think people should have dogs wandering about, not on a lead.

“They need to be under extremely close supervision all the time.”

West Yorkshire Police is also urging dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead when walking through fields where livestock is present.

Young livestock in particular can potentially be vulnerable to a loose dog and under Section 9 of the Animals Act, 1971, the owner of the livestock, the landowner or anyone acting on their behalf, is entitled to shoot any dog on their land if they believe it is the only reasonable way of stopping it worrying livestock.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police, said: “If you are out walking your dog through a field and there is livestock present then simply put a lead on it.”