A farmer was forced to shoot dead a black Labrador which was mauling his sheep – and rangers warn the problem is getting worse.

Three sheep were killed and one was injured when two marauding Labradors started chasing and attacking the animals on farmland adjacent to Ashdown Forest.

Other terrified sheep were chased across the A22 near Nutley when the dogs got loose last weekend.

Farmer Brian Osborne, from Lower Misbourne Farm, had to shoot one of the dogs to prevent further carnage – an action he is entitled to do by law.

The dogs had been being walked by their owner during the day on the land when they ran off and went missing.

Rangers estimate around 20 sheep a year are killed by rogue dogs in and around the forest and they warn the problem may be getting worse.

Earlier this month another sheep was also killed by a dog near the forest.

One ranger Rich Allum said shooting dogs was “very uncommon” - but they often had problems with them worrying sheep in the forest.

He said: “Dogs should be kept under close control at all times - however this does not necessarily mean the dog should always be on a lead.

“In the absence of owners the hunting instincts can kick in. A single dog can kill a sheep and if there is more than one you can get a pack mentality.

“We feel it is getting worse and not just in the forest. In the context of the last few years we have had quite a few serious incidents.

“We tried to catch the dogs, the farmer had no other option and it is not something we take pleasure in – the rangers would have acted the same way.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “The owners agreed that they had failed to prevent the dogs worrying the sheep, and the farmer and dog owners agreed to the matter the being dealt with by Community Resolution.

“The owners agreed to compensate the farmer for the sheep's loss and injury, and agreed to ensure that the owner's dog was in future on a lead and muzzled when out in public.”


IT IS an offence to allow a dog to worry sheep – which includes both attacking and chasing them.

In some circumstances farmers are legally allowed to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep as long as they have lawful excuse.

If a farmer does shoot a dog they must report it to the police within 48 hours and this legal ground is contained in section 9 of the Animals Act 1971.

Sussex Police have said in this circumstance the farmer was legally entitled to shoot the dog and no further action will be taken against him.