Lamb attack stirs memories of killer dogs

21:29, Apr 10 2014
Pet lamb
FINAL WARNING: Otatara residents Muriel and Raymond Gerken say that, if a roaming dog is caught on their property hassling their animals again, they will shoot it. A pet lamb (pictured with its leg bandaged) after it was attacked on Wednesday.

An Invercargill couple will be shooting to kill after a beloved pet lamb was set on and maimed by a mystery black dog this week.

The attack provided a painful case of deja vu for Muriel Gerken. About 35 years ago, she was interviewed by the Southland Times after three dogs attacked and killed some lambs on the same Otatara property.

Memories of slain and horrifically injured lambs lying helplessly in the paddock came flooding back with the latest attack, Gerken said.

Back then, she slept in the back shed armed with a gun and a dog for three months waiting for the dogs to return.

While she was now "too old" for that kind of carry-on, she was adamant that, if they saw another dog with their stock, they would shoot it.

She was "absolutely devastated" to discover her flock of pet lambs had been set on by a roaming dog on Wednesday.


When she went to check on the animals, one had blood on its leg and face, and she knew something more sinister was afoot.

A neighbour confirmed her worst fears. A black, medium-sized dog had been seen chasing down and attacking the lambs that afternoon, she said.

"I love my sheep, they're my pets - they rely on me to keep them safe.

"I don't know whose dog it was . . . but I'm scared stiff it's going to come back."

The lamb's injuries were stitched up by a vet, but the incident has shaken the Gerkens, who have spent the past 40-plus years transforming their Otatara property into a peaceful haven filled with many types of animals.

Invercargill City Council animal control team leader Steven Boyd said the Gerkens were well within their rights to shoot a dog if was caught with their stock.

Legally, any stock owner could destroy a dog if it was found in a fenced area with stock, regardless of whether it was attacking the animals or not, he said. Owners needed to ensure their dogs were under control at all times to avoid those kinds of situations.


The Southland Times