FARMERS are warning dog owners to keep their animals under control after they were forced to shoot a critically injured deer.

West Bexington couple Ellen and Adam Simon were forced to humanely kill the deer after it broke a leg trying to get away from a dog attack.

The Echo has decided to publish the shocking image to make dog owners aware what the consequences are when they let their pets chase animals.

Ellen said: “We did think do we want to put a horrible image out there but the answer is you do because people need to know.”

She said a holidaymaker witnessed the lurcher-type dog chase, harry and seriously injure the deer before it tried – and failed – to jump a fence to get away, breaking its leg.

She said the holidaymaker confronted the dog walker who is reported to have said ‘these things happen’.

The photo shows the deer’s broken leg in graphic detail.

Ellen said: “The injuries which aren’t photographed are on the deer’s head and chest and hindquarters and literally the throat taken.

“The dog walker didn’t do anything, they just walked away. We know they didn’t do anything because they didn’t come to us and they didn’t come to the National Trust because this is land we rent from the trust.

“We are fairly findable and the National Trust is absolutely findable.

“A passer-by had the good sense to get in touch with us, unlike the irresponsible owner of the dog, and we promptly went out to see what we could do – which was put it out of its misery.”

The deer was so badly injured they had to shoot it, said Ellen.

“You can picture the situation where the dog comes back later, maybe a bit bloody or puffed and this may have happened and you wouldn’t know but in this case the person did know.

“Luckily for us, by far the majority of the dog-walkers who use our footpaths are much more responsible and have better behaved dogs.”

This is not the first time something like this has happened.

Tony Jaques, of the Othona community just along the coast, witnessed a similar attack.

He said he shared the farmers’ feelings about the incident.

He said: “It is very distressing to watch.

“Having watched in horror on one occasion as an out of control lurcher, its owner two fields away and oblivious, brought down a deer and then stopped savaging it to go after its fawn, I share their feelings.

“Letting a dog that is essentially a hunting dog off the leash on land of this sort, people need to realise that they may actually hunt wild animals that most of us would want to see protected.

“I later met the owner who had no idea of what had happened because she simply let the dogs race off on their own.

“Her reaction was one of disappointing lack of awareness of what happens when you let dogs of that power and instincts off the leash and out of sight.

“I wonder if the signage on the Cogden/Bexington area is clear enough to advise dog owners of the danger to magnificent wild animals as well as to the farm animals they know their dogs should never harass?”