Toll of unleashed dogs detailed after sheep killed in savage High Elms attack

Details behind a savage attack on grazing sheep at High Elms country park have been revealed, amid renewed calls for dog-owners to keep their pets on the leash across Bromley.

One sheep died in the dog attack at High Elms country park, south of Orpington, on Sunday.

It was part of a flock which has undertaken yearly grazing at the nature site for more than a decade – part of an ongoing conservation effort by Bromley Council and Idverde.

However, this year’s grazing took a horrid turn on October 27.

Sean Gruffery is the grazing officer managing sheep for the Downlands Partnership, a conservation organisation which provides grazing livestock for Bromley Council and its parks contractor, idverde.

He said the sheep were dropped off at the park this year at 11am, while signs warning dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead were posted around the paddock as well.

“Sadly at around 4pm that same day, we received an emergency call from a distressed member of the public, that a dog was mauling one of our sheep and that there was no owner in sight,” he said.

Mr Gruffery said the attack went on for at least 10 minutes, only ending when a member of the public put themselves at risk to chase the dog away.

“By the time I arrived, the sheep was unable to stand and had it’s hindquarter skinned off with a multitude of bite wounds across it’s entire body. At the advice of the vet and with a heavy heart, we decided the best thing for the sheep was euthanization.”

He reiterated calls from Bromley Council’s parks department for dog-walkers to keep their pets on the lead.

“We have had dog attacks on our sheep in the past and it seems unbelievable that a small minority of dog walkers still don’t seem able to control their dogs around livestock,” he said.

“It causes immense suffering for the animal attacked, their wider flock who can still die of shock from the aftermath of being chased and for members of the public who witness such horrific events, as well as staff who have to deal with such shocking situations.”

“The cost is huge, not only for our service but the community at large as it puts the management of these areas at risk. All of this is prevented by keeping a dog on a lead near livestock.”

“We are hugely grateful to the vast majority of responsible members of the public, especially those who keep a watch on our sheep and called us when the attack happened.”

Bromley’s executive councillor for environment William Huntington-Thresher said following the attack “People need to pay close attention to the signs and keep their dogs under control at all times”.

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