Animal and farming organisations have stressed the need to keep dogs on leads when around livestock following recent reports of dog attacks on sheep.

An article in this week’s Examiner detailed an incident on a Braddan farm, in which two dogs killed two sheep.

The Manx Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the island branch of National Farmers’ Union have spoken out on the issue.

MSPCA general manager Joanna Warburton said: ‘Just keep your dog on a lead when around livestock, unless you’re being attacked by a cow.

‘You should not allow dogs off their lead to just run free, they should be under control, this is down to training.’

Mrs Warburton said: ‘You’ll never stop a dog chasing a sheep if the dog is loose.

‘It’s their basic instinct, if they see a sheep running away from them, their instinct will be to chase.’

She has also suggested that the increase in dog attacks may be down to the influx of first-time owners following the ‘pandemic puppy’ trend, and the lack of training dogs have had in recent times as people have less time at home after the pandemic.

Mrs Warburton said: ‘A colleague of ours did a “doggie photoshoot” recently and some dogs didn’t know basic commands like “sit” or “stay”.

‘People are getting dogs and maybe not researching or putting time into training them.

‘They [new dog owners] might just think that it’s alright for a dog to say hello to the sheep.’

The Manx branch of the National Farmers Union provided the Independent with advice that it gives out to it’s members around lambing season, when the number of incidents is usually at its worst.

It said: ‘Sometimes dog owners feel that their dog should be allowed to run free, or that their dog won’t do any harm and is just “playing” or “having fun”.

‘Chasing by dogs can cause serious damage to sheep, even if the dog doesn’t catch them.

‘The stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs. Sheep fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, damaging fences and field boundaries in the process.’