A dog attack in the early hours of June 1 has left the owner of five sheep feeling he "signed their death warrant" by grazing them in a paddock in Bibby Lane, Waipawa.
The sheep included four in-lamb ewes and a ram. Two of the ewes were hand-reared pets.
The owner, who asked not to be named, says he had put the sheep in an empty paddock because the owners wanted the grass eaten down. He says he planned to take them back to his lifestyle block after they had lambed.
"Then on Saturday, June 1 I got a call to say they had been attacked overnight."
Two of the ewes had been killed outright and one other maimed so badly it had to be euthanased, along with the ram. The oldest ewe was injured but survived.
"When I got to the paddock I thought someone had caught the ram and tied him up as he was not moving. But that wasn't the case. He was so traumatised he was unable to get up ... he must have put up a fight trying to protect his ewes. We couldn't revive him and he had to be put down.
"It was horrible. Gut wrenching. I've dealt with livestock all my life and have seen dead stock, but this was devastating. One of the ewes was so ripped about that you could see she'd been carrying twins."
The owner says his grandchildren are also upset as the sheep were so quiet they could feed them by hand.
"The children would pull down branches from the fruit trees so the sheep could nibble on the leaves.
"It's a financial blow as well ... that's about $700 worth of stock, gone. We would have been keeping any ewe lambs to boost our numbers."
A neighbour on McGreevy St says he too has had livestock killed by dogs — four chooks and a pet sheep.
"The sheep was six years old and a family pet, very tame. We'd had her since she was three days old. The dogs chewed her front leg off and we had to have her put down.
"I am quite sure I know which dogs did it. I have seen them roaming the neighbourhood at 1am, 3am, 4am ... I haven't caught them in the act but I have chased them off my property."
Both owners have reported the attacks to CHB District Council Animal Control. A formal investigation has been undertaken by a council animal services and compliance officer, however they were unable to establish which dogs were the offenders.
Animal expert Dr Clive Dalton of Lifestyleblock.co.nz says a damp spell after rain, and a full moon are common triggers for dogs who attack livestock. He says it's a myth to believe like so many people do that their little pet dog could not possibly go out and kill.
"Ninety per cent of dogs that kill sheep are pets, working on their own or with another dog and they come in all sizes and breeds. One common factor to all sheep killers though is that they are wanderers. Wandering dogs near stock can very easily become killers. Wandering dogs are the key."
Under the Dog Control Act 1996 Section 57 Dogs attacking persons or animals it states;
(1) A person may, for the purpose of stopping an attack, seize or destroy a dog if —
(a) the person is attacked by the dog; or
(b) the person witnesses the dog attacking any other person, or any stock, poultry, domestic animal, or protected wildlife.
(2) The owner of a dog that makes an attack described in subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $3000 in addition to any liability that he or she may incur for any damage caused by the attack.