More than 100 sheep have been brutally mauled in an overnight dog attack in rural Hastings.
Hastings District Council regulatory solutions manager John Payne said the scene was spotted by one of his team near Fernhill on Friday morning.
"One of our animal control team members was on their way to work when they saw sheep in the paddock looking bunched up, with some exhibiting blood."
They called it in and Animal Control attended immediately, finding about 80 sheep dead and another 25 injured.
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The attack occurred at a property on State Highway 50 near Roy's Hill Reserve.
Payne said no dogs were seen so the attack probably happened late Thursday night or early Friday morning.
He said the injured and dead sheep had two kinds of wounds indicating more than one dog was involved.
A passer-by who contacted Hawke's Bay Today said he noticed the sheep dotted across the paddock when he was driving by.
"I saw the Animal Control vehicles there and when I saw the sheep I knew it was a dog attack," he said.
"There was blood everywhere and from the marks on the sheep and the mess left behind I could tell it was a dog attack because it's something I've sadly seen before."
Payne said they have arranged for early morning patrols over the long weekend and will inform the owner of this.
"The reason for the patrol is to be proactive and try to find the dogs involved in the attack in the act."
He said with dog attacks on sheep becoming common in areas where there is a mix of rural and urban, people need to be aware dogs still can portray a violent nature.
"We must never forget that a dog is a descendant of the wolf. They are simply a wild canine predator domesticated," he said.
"Even if they have been socialised or trained you cannot eliminate the desire to chase and kill stock.
"You can take the dog out of the wild but you can't take the wild out of the dog."
He said dog owners need to take extra precautions.
"The only way to eliminate stock worrying is to keep your dog under proper control.
"Just because your dog is sitting on the porch in the morning doesn't mean it has been there all night."
Payne said attacks will happen all year round but can become more frequent during lambing and during a full moon. He said dogs need to be controlled better but stock owners also need to ensure they protect their animals as best they can with improved fencing and other precautions.
Stock owners should take extra precautions like:
• Electrify fences containing stock, especially if close to an urban area. A dog that gets a zap from an electric fence is unlikely to return
• Avoid home kills during the attack season
• House stock closer to home for monitoring at high risk times, especially when newborn lambs/at full moon
• Don't leave stock daggy during the attack season
• Don't leave dead stock unburied, skins out to dry, etc
• Take prevention measures against things like fly strike, foot rot, because these smells can attract dogs.