A SOUTH Lakeland sheep farmer is urging dog owners to keep their pets under control after losing a prime ewe and her unborn twin lambs in an attack.

Brian Woof, of Ghyll Farm, Firbank, near Sedbergh, said he was ‘angry and bitter’ after the incident, which occurred on common grazing land near to junction 37 of the M6.

It was the first time he has lost livestock to a dog attack in more than 30 years of farming.

The Texel ewe became separated from the rest of the flock and was found by Mr Woof in a low part of the field, next to a wall.

Its front right leg had almost been ‘gnawed off’. The ewe was taken to Westmorland Vets but was so badly injured it had to be put down, losing its unborn lambs in the process.

“It was terrible,” said Mr Woof. “The dog didn’t go for a weak sheep. This ewe was one of the best in the flock – big and strong and with plenty of good years in front of her.”

Mr Woof said a bridle path ran through the common and prints in the muddy entrance to the field included a clear imprint of a trainer and the large paw print of a dog.

“It’s obvious to me that the ewe was attacked by a dog.

“Pet owners should really be more alert to what their animals are capable of. People just don’t realise what injuries they can cause. Even if they don’t attack a sheep, letting dogs run around can do a lot of damage.

“Particularly at this time of year when ewes are in lamb, they can get very stressed out. Dog owners should really keep their pets on a lead,” added Mr Woof.

His comments reinforce an appeal to dog owners last month from Kirkby Stephen farmer Amanda Owen after she lost two Herdwick sheep in a dog attack.

She posted images of the horrific injuries on the networking site Twitter to highlight the problem of dogs roaming free in rural areas.

In March 2012, Underbarrow farmer David Clarke lost 30 sheep and lambs following a series of attacks by a local dog.