Sunbury farmer urges people to take more responsibility for their animals

Photo: Luke Hemer

A Sunbury farmer, who had to shoot a dog that was mauling his sheep, has urged people to take more responsibility for their animals.

Dalrymple Road landholder John Lakey said it was becoming a common problem in many growth areas, as housing estates creep closer to long-standing farms.

“A lot of people love that they live next to a big farm, but they don’t respect that the farm is a business,’’ he said.

Mr Lakey, whose family has owned the farm since 1949, had to put down two heritage-breed rams and fork out $1000 in vet bills after a dog attacked his flock on May 3.

“A builder who was doing some work pointed out one of my young ram lambs was bleeding from the shoulder,’’ he said.

“I was quite surprised so I went and checked the rest of the flock and found another six animals had been mauled by this dog.”

Mr Lakey said he caught the dog feeding on the ears of one of his rams.

“I didn’t want to shoot the dog, but it’s a worry when an animal gets a bloodlust,” he said.

Mr Lakey said while farmers were legally able to shoot animals attacking livestock, it wasn’t something he wanted to do.

“I don’t shoot animals willy-nilly. I’ve returned plenty of animals before. But if they’re mauling sheep that option is removed.”

Photo: Luke Hemer
Photo: Luke Hemer

Hume council city infrastructure director Peter Waite said 100 complaints about dog attacks on animals had been received this financial year, compared to 113 in 2014-15.

He warned that people must confine dogs to their property at all times, except when the animals are on a lead or at an off-leash park.

“If a dog injures or destroys a farm animal, the dog owner is fully responsible for the cost of this loss,” Mr Waite said.

“A farmer is also within their rights to destroy a dog they find attacking their farm animals.”

Courts can impose penalties of up to $6200.

Mr Lakey said owners could save everybody a lot of trouble by making sure dogs don’t escape.

“If you’re going to move to places like Sunbury, Melton, Whittlesea or Bacchus Marsh, you need to take responsibility for what the dog is potentially going to do,” he said.