Warning: Graphic image below.

Graphic photos show horrific injuries inflicted on a sheep which died soon after being savaged by an out-of-control dog.

Farmer Rachel Hayball hopes sharing the pictures will help bring home the message to dog owners – keep your pet on a lead.

Her flock was viciously attacked last Thursday afternoon on farmland between Broadwindsor and Pilsdon Pen.

One ewe died and another was severely injured, with nasty bite marks on its legs. The rest were left extremely distressed by the incident.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Police are appealing for information. 

READ: Police appeal after sheep killed in vicious attack and others injured

Rachel says nothing is more important to her than the welfare of her animals and that it’s ‘heartbreaking’ to know her flock ‘experienced terror they’ve never known before’ as they ran to escape and defend themselves from the unknown person’s dog, which wasn’t on a lead. The flock is a mixed group of young, old and Rachel’s own pets.

It comes in the same week as the NFU issued a reminder to dog owners to be extra vigilant over the Easter break when visiting rural areas as sheep and lambs are at their most vulnerable.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: It’s not the first time Rachel has had to deal with the consequences of a dog attack, having seen similar in 2020.

The News has reported on multiple attacks on other farms in west Dorset in recent years, including  May 2021, when Cameron Farquharson's Highland cow Gladis was killed by an off-lead dog, which encouraged him to push for new laws to keep dogs restrained when walking near livestock and tougher punishments to protect livestock by launching the Gladis' Law campaign.

Yet it is still happening. Worryingly, Rachel thinks the problem is getting worse.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

“I think more people have dogs now - more people who, perhaps, shouldn’t have dogs,” she said. “People think ‘oh my dog would never harm anything, it would never do something like that’ without thinking about the dog’s natural instinct to chase. Even the most 'trustworthy' and 'gentle natured' dog  is unpredictable in a situation like this with livestock around. Once they switch into that mindset and they’re chasing it’s very difficult to control. Please, don’t take that chance.”

Rachel and her family check on their animals many times during the day. On Thursday evening they noticed the flock huddled together and instantly knew something was wrong.

It was then they discovered one of their younger animals with catastrophic injuries.

“I’m distraught by this," Rachel said. "What’s made it worse is where is the honesty? Had the person come forward and told us what happened we would have got to them sooner and maybe we could’ve saved it. This is just not ok. Where is the decency? How many times do people need to be told?”

"If you’re enjoying our beautiful countryside, please, think of the wildlife that lives there. Keep your dogs on a lead – you never know what’s around the corner.”

Anyone with information relating to this incident is asked to contact PCSO Mike Sinnick of Dorset Police Rural Crime Team, quoting reference number 55240045173,  via the Dorset Police website.

Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online or call Freephone 0800 555 111.