Twenty sheep killed in dog attacks

Two dogs, labelled "silent assassins", have killed 20 sheep in Coalgate in a series of vicious middle-of-the-night attacks.

There have been four attacks on sheep over the last three weeks - the latest of which was last Thursday. Seven sheep were killed in one particularly savage attack.

Selwyn District Council senior animal control officer Steve Clarke said his team were looking for the two dogs responsible, but it was proving difficult.

He called the dogs "silent assassins" as no-one had seen the dogs during any of the attacks.

"They're not barking or making a noise. One of the attacks happened outside someone's bedroom window and they didn't hear anything. It's quite scary really. If we knew the breed we could do a search but we don't know what type of dogs we're looking for. It's difficult; there have been no clues."

He believed the dogs were working as a team in the killings.

"It seems like one of the dogs is holding the sheep on the nose while the other gets it in the shoulder. They also seem to be picking on small holdings of sheep."

All of the properties which had been hit were within 200 metres of each other, leading investigators to think the dogs came from the Coalgate township.

Clarke asked Coalgate residents to make sure their dogs were properly secured and under control.

"We believe they are probably someone's dogs, but they're not always keeping them under control at night-time. We want to get the issue out there so that people know this is going on and that they do need to make sure their dogs are kept secured."

When the dogs were eventually found, the council could decide to prosecute, but it would be up to either the owner or the judge whether the dogs should be put down.

Clarke said the attacks were very distressing for the sheep's owners.

"The last victim was an elderly person and she kept two sheep just to mow her lawn. She went out there in the morning and they had been mauled and were dead. It was very upsetting for her."

He said farmers in Coalgate should be vigilant in watching out for the dogs.

"We're asking them to be aware and keep an eye on their sheep. We really want to get this issue sorted before anything else happens."

The Press