The farmer caught up in a row over a dog being shot dead on his land has defended himself this week,....
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Dog shot dead for the sake of worried sheep

Posted on April 25, 2008

This article was published in April 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

The farmer caught up in a row over a dog being shot dead on his land has defended himself this week, saying he had little choice but to act as he did.

Last week the Gazette reported that pet owners Martin and Barbara Surman were devastated by the death of their 14-month-old whippet Chica and had branded the killing "callous".

But Bill Rawding, who owns New Cloud Farm in Eaton Bray, said that he had warned the couple about their dogs running loose on his farm before and had to take the action in order to protect his sheep.

Mr Rawding said that he shot Chica after spotting her in his field attacking lambs.

In the past he says he has lost hundreds of animals to dog attacks, and days before the incident he had lost two more lambs.

The farmer told the Gazette: "It's not something I did lightly but this was a situation where people were not controlling their pets.

"They forgot that their pets are hunting animals. The dogs don't realise they're doing any harm, they think they're just having fun, but that turns nasty when the blood starts to be spilled."

And he continued: "One of our own dogs turned savage a while back.

"The dog had been round sheep all its life but it turned into a sheep killer.

"In the end we had to have it put down."

The latest incident, which happened nearly two weeks ago, came right in the middle of the lambing season, which many farmers depend on for their income.

Mr Rawding said that sheep-worrying can have a number of knock-on effects, including pregnant ewes losing their babies and having difficulty feeding.

And he said that once a dog has attacked sheep once, it often escalates still further.

The farmer had already chased Chica off his land before, but when he spotted her again he ruled that more extreme action was necessary.

Mr Rawding said: "I could have tried to chase it off again, but then I'd have had the same problem I have every day.

"It's all right saying: 'You could have chased it off again', but what about the next time?"

He said he first spotted Chica in his field around 10 minutes before he came back with his rifle.

"The dog was still attacking the sheep, he had hold of the lamb, so I shot it," Mr Rawding stated.

And he denied claims made by Mr Surman that he had thrown the dead dog back at its owner, instead saying he had handed the body back over a gate.

The farmer said that he had been straight on the phone to the police to report the shooting and said that officers had been in the field to investigate.

Beds Police said that Mr Rawding had acted within the law and it had no concerns about the farmer owning a gun.

But Chica's angry owners said that the laws should be changed to prevent dogs being killed in a similar manner in the future.

For the latest news from Eaton Bray and beyond, get the Dunstable Gazette every Wednesday and make a daily date with Dunstable Today.

Source: Dave Burke, Dunstable Gazette, 23 April 2008

Reader Comments

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April 29, 2008, Joe Plumb says:

I disagree with Chica's owners - the shooting of their dog was down to them not controlling her as they should have done.

I can understand them being upset about their loss, but I don't see how they can have any argument with Mr Rawding's actions.

April 29, 2008, Kim says:

I know Martin and I believe what he says. He also says that Mr Rawding has changed his story 3 times.... why?? Does he feel guilty that he shot the dog? I do agree that farmers have to protect their livelyhood but according to Martin their was no proof that Chica had attacked or killed a lamb as she had no blood on her from the lamb only her own blood........Also, if she was attacking the lamb why did the lamb have no blood on it from Chica being shot at such close range?? Martin says Chica was shot head on.........

April 30, 2008, W G says:

Mr Rawding has a duty to look after his animals and so do Mr & Mrs Surman, it is obvious who is at fault.

February 1, 2009, J Evans says:

An old story yes but... If the dog was attacking a lamb for 10 minutes the lamb would be dead make no mistake about it i own a whippet. So it would appear the story is full of holes and lies, no blood. Why does Mr Rawding not build a proper fence to keep other animals such as dogs out? As he clearly knew this was a problem. I also agree the dogs owners should have had proper control of their animal so think both are to blame but Killing the dog was over the top. And im sure a gun shot right next to a lamb and the other sheep startled them a lot more than the dog did. If the farmer did that to my dog he have to shoot me to save himself....

February 1, 2009, Jane says:

"Attacking" doesn't necessarily mean Chica had drawn blood... my cat will "attack" a mouse without drawing blood for as long as it wants to enjoy the chase. once it gets bored it then kills and eats it. In that time the mouse may have gone through severe trauma, who really knows... the evidence appears to be that worrying sheep causes them psycological problems.

The shooting may have been a step beyond what any owner would want to see happen to their pet, but why would you let your pet worry sheep in the first place? Chica's owners should not have been so cruel to the sheep in the first place by letting their pet do that.

May 9, 2009, JOHN1BULL says:

dogs must be controlled, but so must people

June 19, 2009, Martin says:

This one is a town vs. country debate: In a town park soemone shooting your dog is a crime. And very rightly so. The rules change near livestock, expect it to be shot. Worrying sheep is not on. Sheep farmiing is not a game. You can consider yourself fortunate if a farmer does not shoot. I can see why a dog-owner would not like that reality. Dog owners born and bred in my part of the world know that. Take it to the park. When in Rome...

October 15, 2009, ruth says:

as a dog owner I can sympathise with the farmer.
having warned the owners once they should have taken a hint.
any dog can mistakenly stray into a field and chase the sheep, as some farmers do not keep their fences and hedges in a good state of repair and my small dog has also run through into places where she shouldnt, she doesnt worry sheep however,
if the farmer had clearly marked that sheep were in the field and the owners had ignored this, they are at fault. sorry for the dog but she should have been on a lead.
however if the sheep were in a field with no signs, and poorly repaired fencing then the farmer is clearly at fault for not enclosing his land and giving adequate warning of livestock

October 15, 2009, ruth says:

as another comment..
sometimes its not possibly to keep dogs in a public park as you have child owners complaining about dogs running loose
I always take my two dogs to the countryside, where they can run without me getting abuse from parents who simply dont like to be in the same park as a dog, even when mine are on leads.
dogs need excercise and a free run, and there should be land set aside for this, where there is no danger to livestock or kids.
there are plenty of ungrazed fields anyway, and grazed ones simply need adequate fencing and signage

May 1, 2010, Jo says:

My dogs were stolen and ended up on a field a great distance from where we live. The farmer shot my one dog and badly injured the other. The farmer has changed his story 3 times - why???? The RSPCA found two other dogs shot dead around the same area the same day as mine were shot!!! Farmers are nothing but murderers and unfortunately, the law has given them this right. It is wrong they are not God and have no right. I have heard many times that farmers are animal lovers, however, I disagree. They readily have their dogs put down if they turn and attack sheep - is this the last resort or could they not be rehomed away from farms etc!!!!

July 16, 2010, Robyn Heap says:

FAO. Joe. Please could you contact me regarding the brutal killing of your dog's. We have had a similar situation our cattle dog's (we are farmers) were shot by what i call a 'plastic farmer' he knew they was my dog's, he knew I was out looking, but shot them dead, hid there bodies and tried to cover his crime up. The Police are now being forced to re investigate. This entity who shot ours cannot prove the dog's had been worrying (both were trained to stock) he did not report either the killings of the dog's or the aledged sheep killings/injuries, no vet involvement etc. Thus he should have been charged with criminal damage. Please get intouch.

October 28, 2010, Ann says:

I only came on here as we were thinking of looking at property in Eaton Bray and moving there. Perhaps we'd be safer staying put.

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