Farmers start destroying their redundant dogs
By Jenny Jarvie Sunday 15 April 2001
Sunday Telegraph

SHEEPDOGS are the latest victims of the foot and mouth epidemic: they are being shot by farmers because the slaughter of sheep has left them without flocks to work.

A new government-backed service - Border Collie Rescue - has set up a register for farmers whose flocks have been culled and who can no longer afford to keep their working dogs. The charity, based in Richmond, Yorkshire, will disinfect the dogs and quarantine them to ensure they do not spread the disease.

Mike Cooke, a spokesman for the charity, said: "We have had so many upsetting calls from farmers that our staff have had to be trained by the Samaritans. It is very distressing. Farmers are full of despair and confusion. Of course, it is unnecessary to destroy sheep dogs. Maff have assured us they are putting no pressure on farmers.

"Some individual vets, however, might feel it is a prudent thing to do. I can only confirm a handful of instances of farmers shooting their sheepdogs. I have personally spoken to two farmers who confirmed that they killed their sheepdogs, but they wouldn't go into any detail. They were obviously very upset."

The rescue service, which has been in place for under a week, has been approved by Maff and has full Government support. Mr Cooke said: "It is early days. There are about 250 infected farms, but the amount of affected farms is triple that number. We really don't know how many dogs we will have to look after.

"It is very frustrating because this is a situation we cannot control. We are helpless and cannot offer much advice." Most of the dogs will go to a working environment, either a farm or the police or another public service.