A DISTRAUGHT farming couple are threatening legal action against the owners of dogs that have killed a number of their sheep in three separate attacks.

Mike and Sarah Baddeley have loss several lambs and ewes this year following three incidents on their farm on Stoke Hill, close to Henlade Woods.

The latest attack on their flock came last Friday afternoon, following which a severely wounded ewe had to be put down by a vet.

Mr Baddeley said: "This is the third incident of sheep attacks in the area around Stoke Hill which has resulted in the loss of several lambs and ewes this year.

"The problem appears to be owners unable to control their dogs in the nearby woods and the dogs accessing the adjoining fields."

Mr Baddeley said it was the first time in 23 years of farming that the couple had lost sheep to dog attacks.

He added: "Local farmers are naturally very upset with this turn of events and have warned dog owners that their pets may be shot if found worrying or attacking sheep.

"The owners may also face both civil and criminal prosecution as sheep worrying is a criminal offence."

PC Kathryn Forrest explained: "We’ve been working with local farmers in the area to reduce the number of sheep worrying incidents; however we’re still having problems with dogs chasing and causing injury to livestock.

"Even the most friendly, placid dog can be unpredictable when faced with a field of sheep.

"It’s not worth the risk, as your family pet could be destroyed if it’s found to be responsible for the death of livestock, while you could face significant vets’ bills and prosecution.”

The Avon and Somerset Police Rural Crime Team recommends:

• Always check for livestock in fields when walking your dog/s

• Always make sure you shut gates behind you

• When in or near fields with livestock, keep your dog/s on a lead and under control at all times. The only time you should release your dog is in the event of being chased by cattle. By restraining the dog in this circumstance you put yourself at risk of being injured

• If you live near livestock and own a dog/s make sure that your property and garden are secure so your pets cannot escape