SHEEP have been killed in yet another dog attack, leaving a farmer and his family devastated.

Farmer and fireman David Charlton is pleading with dog owners to keep their pets on a lead following an attack on his flock at Birks Farm, Cleator Moor, which left two ewes dead and three lambs orphaned.

Despite trying to hand-rear the lambs by feeding them with bottles, the three-week-old animals were too used to feeding from their mums, meaning Mr Charlton might lose the youngest members of the flock as well.

"It's a huge loss, but the fact is that people aren't bothered – I think some people think it's a sport," the frustrated father-of-three said.

"We've put signs up warning people that if their dogs are off the lead in the field, they can be shot, but the type of people doing it don't have any morals, so they probably won't take notice."

This isn't the first attack on Mr Charlton's sheep, as he said they've had sheep killed by dogs often, especially over the past few years.

With his children actively involved with farm life, witnessing everything that happens in the fields, nine-year-old Summer, five-year-old Bayleigh and 20-month-old Kaylen are hurt and upset that anyone could let their dog attack and kill the sheep.

And with each ewe and lamb being worth up to £300, the financial loss is just as great as the emotional.

Mr Charlton said: "My five-year-old daughter loves the sheep, and they all help with the lambing and the feeding.

"She understands what's happened, but she can't understand why people would let their dogs attack the sheep – she's devastated."

He added a plea to dog owners, saying: "99% of people will say if dogs are trained properly they're fine off the lead, but it doesn't matter how well they're trained, your dog is still an animal and it can still do this sort of thing."

Cumbria Police shared a word of warning to dog owners, and a spokesman said: "The worrying of livestock is an offence which we will deal with robustly where we can identify offenders.

"Dog owners should also take into account that a farmer who sees their animal worrying livestock is perfectly within the law to shoot their dog to prevent loss or injury to their stock.

"Balancing the use of a lead with loss of your dog, loss of livestock and a conviction – there is no contest really."

They added: "This is unfortunately a common occurrence across our area.

"We will be holding another awareness session in our area around keeping dogs on leads to prevent worrying of livestock."