A CUMBRIAN farmer has spoken of her devastation after a heavily pregnant ewe was chased by a dog and snapped its neck trying to escape.

The Pure Texel sheep, just two weeks away from giving birth to two lambs, was trapped in a corner at Amy Wood's family farm in Windermere.

“Seeing this happen makes me feel devastated for the sheep," she said. "She must have been under so much stress and in pain whilst being chased nearly at full-term. It also makes me furious because incidences like these are completely avoidable. “

Amy found the sheep at the farm at Orrest Head, as well as dog prints skidding down the hill straight into the corner of the field. The ewe had wool torn from her neck and back where the dog must have grabbed hold before she died, said Amy.

There were signs on all of the gates in the area saying heavily pregnant ewes were in the field and asking owners to keep their dogs on a lead at all times.

Amy said livestock worrying and dogs not being under control is becoming more frequent.

She said last week there were so many incidences around midday that she took to standing vigil in the field each day.

When confronting people about their dogs chasing sheep in the past, Amy has had people laugh in her face, walk away, or make any number of excuses.

Amy said: “Any dog can attack, harm or scare livestock, it’s their instincts. It doesn’t matter what breed your dog is, all it takes is for your dog to scare a sheep to cause it enough stress to abort her lambs or die.

“Please put your dog on a lead, it really isn’t that hard, be responsible for your dog, because if your dog causes an incident like this it is completely your fault. Not the dogs, yours.”

Crimestoppers issued a warning to dog owners in Cumbria about letting their pets off lead during lambing season.

The charity wanted to remind people that sheep worrying is a criminal offence and can lead to fines of up to £1,000.

They listed five things you should do when walking dogs in farming areas:

• You must ensure a field or area has no livestock or wild animals in it before letting your dog off lead.

• It’s the law to keep your dog is under control in an area where there are livestock or wild animals.

• Be particularly vigilant during lambing season and always keep dogs on a lead during this time.

• Don't allow people who may not be confident in doing so or may not have full control over the animal to walk your dog.

• Remember where there may be no livestock in a field one day, the same location could be full of animals the next.

Gary Murray, regional manager for the North West at the charity Crimestoppers, said: "Cumbria is a wonderful place to live and work and we are blessed with so many beautiful places to visit and walk. However, we must remember that many of these areas are worked and managed by our farmers. Please be aware of the devastating affect that attacks by dogs off the lead on sheep can have both to livelihoods and the animals.

“If the public knows of dogs that are regularly allowed to worry sheep by their owners to either contact Cumbria Police on 101 or speak to our charity 100% anonymously.”

To pass on crime information completely anonymously, visit the charity’s website Crimestoppers-uk.org and fill in a secure online form or call the 24/7 UK Contact Centre on 0800 555 111.