Otley Chevin farmer’s fury at dog owner after lambs mauled to death

Wharfedale Observer: Four of the five lambs that were killed in the attack, which left the survivors “frightened to death” Four of the five lambs that were killed in the attack, which left the survivors “frightened to death”

A vicious attack by an out-of-control dog has left five lambs dead and many more injured on Otley Chevin.

The incident, the second of its kind in the area within the space of two weeks, took place in fields bordering Danefield Wood on Sunday.

The alarm was raised with the owners of Russell Farm at 11.30am and they were confronted with a pitiable scene.

David Lawson, who runs the farm with his wife Sue and son Chris, said: “There was one lamb dead already and about 15 that had been bitten and were in various degrees of injury.

“They were all just lying in corners, absolutely frightened to death – you could pick them up and they wouldn’t move.

“We went out with a pick-up to collect them and got a vet out who had to put another four out of their misery.

“We’ve now got ten that were injured and have been stitched up in the shed to heal, and on antibiotics.

“We had to find their mothers and put them together, because they’re still taking milk.

“We’ve had similar problems in previous years and were a little bit anxious at Easter, but thought we’d got past that – then unfortunately someone has had neither the sense nor ability to control their dog and it’s done this.”

A similar incident happened on fields belonging to a smallholding on a different part of the Chevin, on its lower slopes, on April 13 when a Japanese Akita killed one lamb and injured others.

On that occasion, though, the owner apologised and reached an agreement with the flock’s owner – this time, they are believed to have simply run away.

Mrs Lawson, who took the shocking photograph (above) of the aftermath, said: “The owner was witnessed running off once they had caught their dog.

“However scary the prospect of admitting to the attack, they should have come forward.

“How upset do they think we are after seeing our stock in such a sorry state? We have put so much time and energy into rearing them.”

Her husband, meanwhile, is imploring all dog owners to act more responsibly.

He said: “We’re at risk because we’re next door to Danefield Wood, where visitors can come from ten or 15 miles away on a nice day to take their dog for a walk and stroll around the Chevin.

“But if they don’t control their dog and keep an eye on it they might not see it for 20 minutes, which is all it would need to do this – and on this occasion the field was on the other side of a busy road, too.

“I’ve always said it’s not a bad dog that does this but it’s because of a bad owner. People should be responsible enough to know that if it’s a big or aggressive kind of dog then it can do this kind of thing, and it has to be kept under control.

“We’re getting posters made to put up on gateways to try and make people think. I don’t know if they’ll make much difference, but we have to try.”

Set off the A660 Leeds Road, Russell Farm suffered attacks on its flock of Texels eight years ago which led to the Lawsons making a similar public appeal.

The farm, which currently has about 180 sheep and 300 lambs, has been in the family for generations.

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