After twenty years working with livestock, a retired sheep farmer never suspected his dog would attack a sheep one day.

A RETIRED sheep farmer whose dog attacked a ewe on Northam Burrows has spoken out to warn others to keep their pets on a lead.

Tony Mercer, of Bideford, was distraught to see his German Pointer, Stig, chase a large ewe for 300 metres and drag it to the ground before he had a chance to intervene.

“Twenty years as a sheep farmer had already made me acutely aware of the potential danger of dogs worrying sheep,” said Mr Mercer.

“Stig was well used to being among livestock of all kinds – sheep, cattle, horses and poultry – and had never shown any interest whatsoever in any of them while out for walks in various places.

“What happened that day is a mystery to me, and troubles me hugely.

“It does prove graphically that there is no such thing as a safe dog, and owners should never relax when in the company of livestock.

“I thought I knew my dog better than I seem to. This was a lesson learned.”

Mr Mercer has since been served with a dog control order which requires Stig to be kept on a lead whenever he is near to livestock.

The police and Torridge District Council have been working in partnership on the problem of sheep worrying on Northam Burrows and Mr Mercer is one of several people who have been given such orders this year.

Councillor Barry Parsons, leader of the council, said: “The majority of dog owners act responsibly and enjoy the Burrows with their pets.

“But some allow their dogs to chase or attack other dogs, livestock or wild birds and we need to stamp this out. The Burrows is for everyone to enjoy.”

PC Dick Rowlands, Westward Ho! beat officer added: “If you see an instance of sheep worrying or an out of control dog, please take as many details as you can, a car registration would be ideal.

“Use your camera or phone to get pictures and report it to the Police using the general number 101.”