Two dogs savaged about 50 lambs and two sheep in a bloody frenzy which has left a Waimate farming couple devastated.
On Saturday morning the pitbulls ripped the throats of 38 sheep which had to be put down while 14 others may have to be euthanased later because of their injuries.
The tan and white dogs are known to animal control. One was shot in the act and the other captured and put down. The mob of about 85 sheep were in a leased paddock at the Waimate Racecourse.
The lambs are worth more than $4000 at about $85 each and a two tooth ewe is about $120.
PGG Wrightson stock agent Alan McRae said it was the worst savaging he had seen. The maximum he had come across before was 10 sheep killed.
"On a small holding it is devastating. It's more than 50 per cent of the mob," McRae said. Semi-retired farmers Tim and Errol Kennedy are shocked at what had happened; they run about 300 sheep in total.
Tim Kennedy said a neighbour who had just opened his curtains alerted him to the dog attacks at 7.30am.
"I got here . . . and it was carnage," he said.
He could only see one dog at that stage which was lunging at one sheep after another.
Dog Control officer Karen Buchanan said it was instinctive "prey drive" in the dogs to attack. When she got to the paddock the tan dog was obviously getting tired and although still attacking the stock it did not have the energy to pull the sheep down.
The other dog was spied while she was walking around to assess the damage after the first dog was shot. It was about 9.30am and it ran off through the trees. It was caught later and put down.
She said under the Control Act 1996 it was the dogs' owner's responsibility to pay for the dead sheep. The dog owner claimed he tied the dogs up at 3am on Saturday and they must have slipped their chains.
The Kennedys say they have hardly slept since the incident.
Errol Kennedy was concerned that a child could have been killed if they had come across the dogs.
"I think dog owners have got to start keeping them secure all the time. If they slip their collar they will do it again. They need to be in a cage. If they can do that to a sheep what could they do to a child?" she said.
Her husband said he couldn't stop thinking about the blood that was everywhere and the suffering of his sheep.
"It makes me feel like weeping. We've been here since 1979 and we've never had anything as bad as this," Errol Kennedy said.
- The Timaru Herald