IT is this time of year around lambing time when farmers and police put out their annual appeals to dog owners to keep their pets under control.

Despite the pleas, there are always incidents of sheep worrying, and some end up badly mauled, or dead.

And so it was 75 years ago in February, 1949, when members of the Craven National Farmers Union supported a resolution calling on regular public broadcasts aimed at dog owners to be made on the 'wireless' and even considered a suggestion that the number of dogs kept as pets could be reduced by a hike in the cost of dog licences.

The resolution to the county branch executive by the Ilkley and Addingham branch said broadcasts should ask people not to exercise their dogs in fields where lambing ewes were grazing.

It also suggested that during the critical period of February and March, each branch should endeavour to bring to the notice of dog owners the importance of safeguarding the lamb 'crop' by ensuring that sheep were not chased or molested by dogs Messages on the screens of cinemas were also suggested as a means of pressing home to the public the necessity that sheep should not be molested at the time of year.

In an article, titled 'Anxious Time For Farmers', the Craven Herald reported that the damage caused to sheep through being chased by dogs was the chief topic of discussion at the meeting of the NFU in Hellifield Village Institute.

"It was stressed that farmers in many parts of the country had been obliged to discontinue keeping sheep owing to losses sustained through damage by dogs. It was pointed out that damage to sheep was not confined to worrying. During the early months of the year, considerable damage was caused as a result of people thoughtlessly allowing their pets to startle or chase lambing ewes, and such damage was not apparent until lambs were born dead."

The meeting heard that the matter had been fully discussed at the annual meeting of the NFU just the day before in London.

A Mr Fretwell from Bentham said: "Headquarters are fully alive to the position, but are unable to obtain any amending legislation" while the suggestion put forward to reduce the number of dogs kept as pets by increasing the licence fee was 'not likely to find favour with a Government dependant on urban votes'.

The meeting however resolved to support the Addingham and Ilkley branch resolution to make regular wireless broadcasts and also messages on cinema screens 'as a means of emphasising to the public the necessity that sheep should not be molested at this time of the year (February and March)'.

But it was not just sheep, in the same week, the Craven Herald reported on a case in the Skipton law court of hens being mauled by a dog.

A Cononley man appeared on a charge of being the owner of a dangerous dog not kept under proper control and pleaded not guilty.

The court heard from a John Freeman, of Cononley, occupier of a plot in Royd allotments, where he kept a small number of hens.

Mr Freeman told the court how two of his hens had been badly mauled, and when he had later returned to his plot, he had seen a brown and black dog attempting to maul some more. He said the dog belonged to the man in court, and he had told him about it before.

The court also heard evidence from Mr Freeman's 11-year old son, who saw and recognised the dog and had seen it run off through a bolt hole.

A police officer visited the man at his home and questioned him about his dog, to which he replied "are you sure it is my dog? there are a lot about like it," before adding "I thrashed it for chasing sheep, I will have it destroyed. It is the best thing for it."

His wife told the court that the dog had been locked up on the morning of the day in question in their outside coalhouse, while his brother said he and his sibling had been employed on the day spreading lime on fields near to the allotments and had not seen the dog go anywhere near the hen runs.

However, the court found him guilty and made an order for the dog to be kept under proper control. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1 and three shillings. The presiding magistrate, Mr J H Preston, told him: "You had better think very seriously before you keep this dog, which you admit chases sheep."

It was the second appearance for the Cononley brothers that day - they also appeared on a charge of stealing timber worth £3 from an allotment plot in the village, to which they admitted. For that, they were both fined 40 shillings and ordered to share costs of ten shillings and eight pence.