The owner of one of the two dogs which killed 43 sheep on a neighbouring farm after they escaped from a dog-minding facility near Tarras does not believe they got out by digging under the enclosure fence.

On February 4, Christine Prebble, of Christchurch, and her son James, of Wanaka, left their dogs Wilbur and Hank in the care of Big Dogs Homestay.

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Kennel operator investigated after escaped dogs kill 43 sheep

Homestay owner Nancy Williamson has alleged the dogs escaped that same night by digging under a section of the deer fence enclosing pen they were being held in.

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During the four weeks the dogs were missing Prebble returned to the Big Dogs Homestay pen to see for herself the hole under the fence.

"Wilbur is a 36kg boxer and Hank is a 35kg Chesapeake Bay retriever. There was no way they could have got under that deer fencing as it had no give in it and it was tight to the ground."

Williamson said she spent several days and nights looking for the dogs.

Between Prebble and her son, one or both of them searched for the dogs every day and often into the night for four weeks before they were sighted on March 4 mauling sheep high on the Glenfoyle Station hills near a manuka forest.

At one point they even hired a helicopter for half a day.

Prebble said during those four weeks she knocked on almost every door between the Lindis Pass, Hawea, Cromwell and Cardrona and her son spent many days walking the river tracks and riding a trail bike around the countryside.

She said by the time they caught the dogs on the morning of March 5, both she and her son were mentally and physically exhausted.

Both dogs were taken to the vet where they were found to have lost 6kg to 8kg. Her dog Wilbur was also suffering from a badly ulcerated stomach and internal bleeding, she said.

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Williamson said she was granted resource consent this month to operate an overnight dog minding service and one of the conditions was to install rabbit-proof fencing.

"There is no way they could burrow under here now," Williamson said.