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Farmer cleared of shooting dogs unnecessarily

A FAMILY said that it had been left devastated after a farmer who shot their dog dead was cleared of any wrongdoing by a West Yorkshire court on Monday of this week.

Ex-Army marksman Terence Blackburn, 73, killed Dalmatian puppy Bandit just yards from where its young owner, Sebastian Beckett, then 13, was standing. Moments earlier Blackburn had opened fire on the pup's mother, Dfor, peppering its body with 30 pellets. The dog survived.

Bingley magistrates heard that Sebastian, of, Ogden, Halifax, West Yorkshire took both dogs on to moorland near Denholme one day in February 2006.

Emma Downing, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said Sebastian lost sight of both pets on the moors and went home. Later he searched again, this time with brothers Todd and Toby, aged seven and six.

Miss Downing said: ‘Sebastian saw Blackburn firing a Winchester shotgun at the puppy, which was only yards from his feet.’

Ninety pellets were found to have entered the dog's body.

Blackburn, of Myrtle Farm, Cross Roads, Keighley, admitted shooting the dogs in February last year, but said they had been worrying his sheep. He denied two charges of animal cruelty.
In a statement read out by RSPCA Inspector Mandi Barr, who interviewed Blackburn, he said he believed his sheep had been worried by the dogs.

One of the dogs he shot yelped and ran in a circle and later he approached it and believed it to be dead. He said he thought it was not necessary to put it out of its misery because it was dead.
Inspector Barr said stock collector David Mitchell had received three dead sheep in February 2006 from Blackburn. It was believed they had died of stress after being worried by dogs.

Dismissing the charges, Court chairman Glynis Wilkinson said: ‘The defendant genuinely believed his sheep and unborn lambs were in danger. This case has not been proved.’