Farmers in the south of England bear the brunt of most ‘heartbreaking’ deadly dog attacks in the country.  

Fifth-generation sheep farmer Isobel Connell (nee Bowden) is faced with new attacks nearly every week.

The attacks are having a big impact on her family and the farm nestled in the Chiltern Hills. 

Although such attacks have been a regular occurrence for years, the sharp rise in dog ownership during the coronavirus pandemic has sadly meant more deadly attacks.

Last week, Isobel found three dead ewes in one field.

A post mortem by the vet revealed they been chased to exhaustion overnight by escaped unsupervised dogs.

Their lungs were frothing from over exertion after they were chased for so long over the course of the night until they collapsed and died, leaving behind six orphan lambs.

She said: "It was heart-breaking to hear the orphaned lambs bleating next to their dead mothers.”

For years, Isobel and her family have campaigned for dog owners to use leads - including signs on the fields warning about sheep and taking to social media to talk about the importance of using a lead.

The South East, including Buckinghamshire, sees the most livestock killed or injured by out-of-control dogs.

These attacks cost farmers in the South East approximately £210,000 each year, rising to £1.8 million worth animals lost yearly in the entire country. 

Now a rural affairs expert has issued a warning to all dog owners ahead of the Easter holidays.

NFU Mutual’s rural affairs specialist Hannah Binns said: “As the Easter holidays approach and people flock to the country to explore, it is crucial dog owners act responsibly by keeping their dog on a lead in areas where livestock are nearby.

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“There is an abundance of sheep and lambs in many UK fields, while in upland areas farmers are just starting their season.

 “It is hard for people to imagine their friendly family pet could chase, injure or kill another animal but all dogs are capable of this, regardless of breed or size.”

Many of the dogs purchased during the pandemic may not be trained properly or know how to deal with farm animals, she said.

“We are urging dog owners to keep their pet on a lead wherever livestock may be nearby and if there is an attack, please report it to the police or a local farmer so that the animal is not left suffering for hours.”

In another string of attacks, Buckinghamshire farmer Oliver East lost more than 20 sheep this winter alone.