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Could this be deliberate?

A FARMER has had almost his whole sheep flock wiped out in a horrific dog attack – and now fears that it may not have been a random incident, but someone's idea of 'sport'.

The sheep were killed during a dog attack. They were then eaten by animals which feed on carrion.
The sheep were killed during a dog attack. They were then eaten by animals which feed on carrion.

Peter Eccles, an agricultural consultant with SAC Consulting who also farms a small flock of pedigree Texels and Hebrideans in East Lothian, found out from a neighbour that there were dead sheep in his field last Sunday morning.

When Mr Eccles arrived at Newbattle Home Farm, where he rents the field, he found three of his Hebridean sheep had been killed by a dog, with three more sustaining serious injuries meaning they had to be put down. By the time he reached the sheep, the scene had been worsened by foxes or other carrion animals which had partially eaten the dead animals.

The breeding flock was only eight strong, so Mr Ecckles has been left with just two, both currently being treated for puncture wounds to their legs.

Mr Eccles said: "The sheep had been torn apart by dogs – one had its throat bitten out and its front and back legs were completely chewed up. The ones I had to put down had chewed legs. They couldn't walk and were stressed after the attack."

This is not the first time an attack like this has happened in the area, near Dalkeith – a neighbour of Mr Eccles suffered three separate attacks from October to December, and lost around 20 sheep.

This has led Mr Eccles to fear that it was not a case of a stray dog running riot in his field, but part of an organised event, where dogs are deliberately let into fields for sport.

"I'm worried people are showing up at dusk and putting a dog into a field for fun," he said. "If it was a stray dog, it would have needed to be a big dog to jump over barbed wire fences.

"There is no livestock at the farm now and my neighbour has taken all his sheep in."

He added: "When I heard about the earlier attacks on my neighbour's farm, I thought that was terrible. But it wasn't until I saw the horrific injuries inflicted to my sheep and the shock they suffered, it upset me. It's not about how much the sheep are worth, it's the loss of a whole family of breeding stock and animals we worked with and know."

Mr Eccles has reported the incident to Lothian and Borders police and is waiting on post-mortem reports for the dead sheep. He is keen to find out if any locals saw anything suspicious near Newbattle Home Farm between Friday evening (January 25) and Sunday morning (January 27). He would also like to appeal to dog owners in the area who may have noticed their dog missing during that time and which returned covered in blood.

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