PEOPLE moving into new estates near farmland should be given 'welcome packs' in order to reduce dog attacks on farm animals, Bridgwater and West Somerset's MP has claimed this week.

Mr Liddell-Grainger says it is nonsense to describe such incidents as 'sheep-worrying' and that the use of the term means people do not realise how serious the issue is.

"Unless you’ve actually seen the aftermath of a dog attack on a flock of sheep – and I guess most of you wouldn’t care to – you can have no idea of how much suffering can be inflicted," Mr Liddell-Grainger said.

"Those animals which are killed pretty much outright are the fortunate ones – if that is the right word to use. But imagine the plight of those which may only be maimed and which may lie in a field for hours between a night-time attack and the moment they are discovered by their owner the next day," he said.

"This is why I always say it is a nonsense to go on describing such incidents as ‘sheep-worrying’. Believe me, a sheep with one of its legs half torn off is slightly more than ‘worried’."

Mr Liddell-Grainger argues that when a cat is killed by a dog there are calls for action but dozen of sheep attacks are recorded every month that don't appear to register with most people. Earlier this month police were investigating a case of 'sheep-worrying' in Dunster Deer Park.

"The bad news is that the increase appears to be linked in part at least with the way new housing estates are sprawling out into the countryside, bringing the urban area into direct contact with working farms, often with livestock running on them," Mr Liddell-Grainger said.

"And some of those people in the new estates either fail to control their dogs properly when walking them across neighbouring land, or simply allow their pets to run wild – with almost inevitable and tragic – and costly - consequences. That is why I am suggesting that the ‘welcome pack’ each new home-owner receives when they move in should include a leaflet offering suitable advice about dog-walking and how people can stop their pets attacking livestock."