WARNING DISTRESSING CONTENT:
Tāneatua residents Allan and Paula James are mourning the loss of 12 sheep after a pack of dogs viciously attacked their flock over the weekend.
Allan encountered the bloodbath on Sunday morning when he went searching for their flock of 20 sheep.
The graphic scene left the couple shellshocked.
Paula said ewes lay dead with their unborn lambs ripped from their stomachs.
Six sheep were killed by the dogs and another six had to be put down due to their injuries. Eight others were injured, four of them badly, but remain alive. Whether they can recover is unclear.
To the James, the sheep were their beloved pets kept around for their loving nature and grass munching abilities.
"They all die of old age at our house," Paula said.
"They weren't just sheep, they were our pets, and they were good girls ... we just want to find the dogs that did it."
Reeling from their loss, the couple are intent on finding the dogs responsible and holding their owners to account.
Whakatāne District Council community regulation manager Graeme Lewer said the council was made aware of the attack shortly after Allan discovered the dead animals.
Lewer said the council was eager to speak to anyone who had information about the incident. He said it was difficult to link any particular dog or dogs to the incident, however, the James believe they know the pack responsible.
Paula said she was in her pyjamas and dressing gown early Monday morning when she sighted a dog near the flock again.
A neighbouring farm was hit hard the same night as theirs and Allan said they had been camping in the field where their flock grazed, armed and ready to shoot.
One dog had already been shot by the James' neighbour, who farms sheep on a commercial level for wool. The James warned there could be a similar consequence for other dogs roaming on their properties if the owners did not restrain them.
Paula said the attack was most likely prolonged due to the slaying of their ram Ice Cream, a large male sheep who would have been hard to get down because "he was no sook".
"Seeing what they've done to our sheep they must have been down there for hours, to do what they've done," she said.
The couple have lived in the area with pet sheep for around 12 years and this is the first time they have had problems with dogs.
Allan noticed the gate at the beginning of their driveway had been opened and suspects there may be more to the story than meets the eye.
Lewer said the attack served as a warning to dog owners.
"It's a reminder for dog owners to know where their dogs are at all times. This means the dogs being housed, in a kennel run, in a secure fenced enclosure or restrained when not under the direct supervision of their owners.
He said anyone who saw dogs roaming individually or in packs should contact the council on 07 306 0500.
The couple have since spoken to the police and a spokesperson said if anybody had any information regarding this incident they could call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the non-emergency line 105.
- Whakatane Beacon