This sheep was traumatised and severely injured by the attack and later euthanased.
Five sheep on lifestyle blocks in Red Beach are dead, and one has been left badly injured after vicious attacks by dogs.
Vets have warned the affected property owners, Noel Marley and Max Miller and Dianne and Chris Bruce, that when dogs attack sheep, they are likely to do it again and that it’s important for anyone with livestock on the Weiti River side of Whangaparaoa Peninsula (between the highway and Red Beach lights) to be aware of the situation and protect their animals.
When Noel and Max retired to their lifestyle block overlooking the Weiti River, 10 years ago, it was the fulfillment of a dream. That dream was shattered when the couple woke up on June 30 to what Noel describes as “a war zone”.
A dog attack overnight had left just one of their four South Suffolk sheep unharmed. Two were dead and one later had to be put down. There was blood all over the field and parts of the sheep had been torn off.
The paddock is fenced, but the dogs had jumped over or through the post and wire fence. Muddy paw prints on the concrete drive indicated that at least two dogs were involved.
“We were shocked that the dogs literally ripped the faces off our poor sheep and barely touched their bodies – they must have died slowly and in agony,” Max says. “No meat was eaten – it was clear this was done for sport.”
After the attack, Noel and Max were on high alert, lying awake at night to listen for the dogs’ return.
The attack followed a similar one, three weeks before, on the neighbouring property of Dianne and Chris Bruce. Dianne says on the morning of June 10 she found that two Awassi sheep, purchased just two weeks earlier, had been attacked. One was dead and the other dying. The sheep cost $800 each and one of them was pregnant. In addition, one of the couple’s Arapawa sheep had been badly mauled by the dogs.
“Our vet said that the wounds were consistent with an attack by two dogs,” Dianne says. “One takes the head and one takes the back to bring the sheep down.”
Dianne says their remaining sheep are now corralled within an electric fence, but she, along with Max and Noel, is angry and also fearful of further attacks.
Max says he will not hesitate to shoot any stray dogs he sees on their property now.
He says they are even considering moving, as they need sheep to keep their grass down but will not get any more while the dogs are still at large.
“Someone knows the dogs that did this,” Max says. “They would have come home covered in blood and mud, and with scratches from the barbed wire.”
In both cases, the shock and distress for the animals’ owners has been considerable. There has also been a financial cost in the thousands, when vet bills and the cost of the animals are added up.
An officer from Auckland Council’s animal management team visited Noel and Max’s property, but as the attack was not witnessed by anyone, they could not locate the dogs responsible. They provided baited dog traps, which have so far not caught anything.
Council’s animal management manager Sarah Anderson says that DNA testing is a relatively new option to help solve cases like this. The cost of testing varies and is covered by Council. Where possible, the costs are recouped from a successful prosecution.
She says residents concerned about their livestock should keep an eye out for dogs roaming in the area, and call Council on 09 301 0101 if they see any.
“We need photo or video evidence, or a witness, to be able to find, identify and seize a dog – so if it’s possible and safe to do so, if people can take photos or video it is helpful,” she says.
There are a number of penalties for owners of dogs found to have attacked sheep, including fines and potential prosecution as well as the possibility of the dogs being put down.