Pensioner, 70, and his Border Collie named Lad are NEARLY trampled to death by cows in horror ordeal


A farmer has been fined after a retiree and his dog were nearly trampled to death by cows on a public footpath.

The cow attack

Retired chartered surveyor Patrick Atherton, 70, and his 13-year-old Border Collie ‘Lad’ were knocked to the ground by seven cows while walking in June last year.

They were saved after the cows were waved away by someone, believed to be a farmer.

Mr Atherton was left with cuts and bruises from what could have been a fatal attack.

They narrowly escaped

His dog Lad suffered serious injuries after being repeatedly kicked and stamped on by the cows – which on average weigh nearly 700kg.

Mr Atherton, originally from The Wirral, Merseyside, says that he thought he was going to die during the attack at Birdcage Farm, in Ottery Saint Mary, Devon.

He said: ‘I’ve been a trainer of Border Collies for many years.

‘It was ironic that for the first time I had kept Lad on his lead as I had noticed two young calves in the field and thought if he was walking by my side they wouldn’t really notice.

‘Unfortunately, one black cow did and it charged at us, knocking me down by the hedge that bordered the path.

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‘I tried to stand up and let Lad off his lead but they kept on knocking me over.

‘There was about seven cows involved, but it was the very aggressive black cow that was trying to kill my dog.

‘I thought we were going to die. I had been powerless to do anything.’

Throughout the traumatic ordeal, Mr Atherton also was forced to listen to Lad shrieking from pain as he was attacked.

Thankfully the collie survived his injuries – but had to be medicated for the rest of his life, and was never the same.

Victim impact statement

Mr Atherton added: ‘We were both surrounded by cattle. I could hear Lad shrieking in pain as he was repeatedly kicked and stamped on.

‘He was never the same dog after what happened and he sadly passed away in September this year.

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‘I just want to make other people aware of the risks when out enjoying popular footpaths such as this one.’

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident found that cattle with young calves were being kept in a field with a public right of way across it.

Cattle with calves are aggressive to walkers with dogs

Cattle with calves are known to be protective and can be aggressive to walkers, especially to those with dogs.

Between 2018 and 2022, more than 30 people were killed by cows in similar incidents, while others have been left with life-changing injuries.

Due to these dangers, farmers are encouraged to cull any aggressive animals or avoid putting them in fields with public access.

Public entrances to fields containing potentially dangerous cattle should clearly state whether they contain cows with calves or bulls in the field.

Farmer John Hallett, who owns Birdcage Farm, later plead guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500 at Exeter Magistrates’ Court.

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.


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