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Dog attack on sheep ‘deliberate’

POLICE AND RSPCA officials fear that a cruel thug may have rounded up a herd of sheep before setting a pack of dogs on them in a savage attack which left 14 animals dead.

The horrific incident, which left even hardened RSPCA officers shocked, took place at a farm near Morpeth, Northumberland last week. Five of the sheep died at the scene, while the other nine had to be put down because of the extent of their injuries.

After studying the grim aftermath of the scene, officers have reached the conclusion that the sheep might have first been cornered by a human before the pack was set loose on them. RSPCA Inspector Trevor Walker said: ‘The strange thing about this case is that the sheep had facial and front end injuries only. This means they hadn’t run away so they may have been backed into a corner and then the dogs let loose. In all my experience I have never come across anything like this before. There have been reports of people with dogs in the woods nearby in the past. It could be that someone was out hunting with a pack of dogs and didn’t get their usual prey and decided to take it out on the sheep. But whatever the reason, these dogs must have been drenched in blood and somebody must have seen them or know about them.’

Inspector Walker added: ‘It’s possible this attack is connected to badger baiting but it’s unlikely as they use smaller terriers and these injuries seem to have been caused by bigger dogs with powerful jaws. If it was a single dog then you’d get injuries to the legs and bellies as that’s how dogs bring their prey down. It isn’t a pack of wild dogs because we just don’t have them in this country as they would be hunted down and exterminated very quickly. They must have been domesticated dogs under the control of a human. If there is someone out there deliberately targeting sheep then they will do it again and we need to find them before any more animals killed.’

According to the National Union of Farmers around 24,000 sheep are killed by dogs in the UK every year. If an attack is done deliberately then those convicted can face up to a year in jail and a £20,000 fine.