An out-of-control dog has been photographed chasing a terrified three-month-old sheep over the edge of a cliff to its death, agencies report. Photographer Eddie Nolan spotted the dog charging towards three sheep while a crowd of people were shouting at the pet to try and get it to stop.After one of the sheep plunged around 300ft into the water and rocks below, the other two managed to escape past the dog.
The incident happened in the Birling Gap area of the Seven Sisters Country Park, East Sussex.Police are now investigating if any sheep worrying offences have taken place. Mr Nolan spotted the lamb fall over the edge and began taking photos of the other two distressed sheep.He said: “I was out for a walk at the weekend and I was about a mile past Birling Gap.”There was this dog out of control tracking these sheep at the edge of the cliff and not allowing them to get into the open space.
“The sheep came upon this unstable ground and lost its footing and went over the edge with the dog constantly barking. “When it went over there were a few screams and everyone was in shock.” Once the lamb slipped over the cliff face the two other sheep managed to scramble past the dog. Mr Nolan, from Dublin, added: “I didn’t see it bite the sheep but it was snapping at them.
“It was the fact that the dog was out-of-control that the owners were worried about going down there because it was unsafe. “The dog owners were shouting and screaming at it to come back and at one point a guy came down to try and grab the dog but couldn’t get it. “A woman managed to get hold of it in the end and she was clearly upset.” The lamb belonged to husband and wife farmers Zoe and Sam Stanisstreet, who have lived and farmed at the country park for 27 years.
Mrs Stanisstreet, 42, said: “My husband got a phone call from the eyewitness the following morning and he had seen one of the lambs being driven off the cliff edge. “The lamb would have died from the impact without a doubt. “This is the first time to my knowledge that one has gone over the edge.” The couple, who farm 500 acres in the country park and have around 1,000 sheep, were devastated when they received a phone call from Mr Nolan the following day telling them what had happened.
Mrs Stanisstreet said: “I just felt sick. My husband took the phone call but I could tell w hat had happened from the way he took the call. “The sheep were exactly where they should have been, they were not in the wrong place. “It is a working farm and there are signs warning people to keep their dogs on a lead. “Dog walkers have the right to walk there but please be mindful – it’s not a lot to ask.”
Mr Stanisstreet, 63, whose name is on the tenancy for the farm, added: “We have a huge sheep worrying problem here. “There are probably about one million visitors here a year.” As the couple do not have the specialist equipment required to scale the cliff face and retrieve the dead lamb, they were forced to leave it there. Mr Stanisstreet said he suspects it has probably been washed out with the tide.
The distressing pictures were posted on Facebook by Mrs Stanisstreet and have been shared more than 6,000 times. A spokesman for Sussex police said: “At 9.40pm on Sunday (21 June) we received a call from a member of the public reporting that another person had told him that a dog had chased a lamb off cliffs at Seven Sisters Country Park. “Officers will investigate to see what dog worrying offences may have been committed under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.”
Bob Blanden, the regional manager for the National Sheep Association said: “Dog worrying is becoming a huge issue amongst sheep farmers. “This is pretty extreme because they got driven over a cliff – the dog looks like it is just going out-of-control. “This particular incident is lucky as there was someone with a camera and the guy managed to take some photos of the incident.”