26 Jun 2019

Five dogs impounded after 143 sheep killed during full moon

6:53 pm on 26 June 2019

Five dogs have been impounded following a spate of attacks that have killed 143 sheep in Hastings over the last few weeks.

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Community patrols will be out in force during the next full moon. Photo: Photo / 123RF

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst met with local farmers today over the issue and said council and community patrols would be set up for the next full moon in July, as most of the attacks occurred during a full moon.

The council was also committed to cracking down on errant dog owners, she said.

"I will be working with our local MP to say we need to look at the legislation - it's old and needs to be updated - and we are going to work hard to ensure all the district's dogs are microchipped and that dog owners are held accountable for the damage that's caused."

Three prosecutions were pending, and two dogs involved in attacks had been returned to their owners who were fined.

Over the last month there have been 12 reports of stock worrying and 143 sheep killed in different locations, causing distress to landowners feeling the impact both financially and emotionally.

Nine farmers met Ms Hazlehurst today to discuss the current situation and how to address it.

Farmer spokesperson Denise Davis, who had five properties targeted by roaming dogs, said that while there were dog attacks on stock last year, it was nowhere near the scale seen this month, resulting in a significant loss of revenue.

"It's not just from the loss of the animals, it's also employing someone to dispose of the carcasses, the vet bills for the injured sheep and then there the stress affecting the rest of the flock, and their productivity.

"We take great pride in finishing our stock well and it's devastating - all of us are up throughout the night monitoring the stock - we need these dog owners to be responsible, to tie their dogs up at night and know where they are during the day, and they need to be accountable."

Current legislation needed to be reviewed to better protect livestock and make irresponsible owners more liable, she said.

In the meantime we know moonlit nights are a problem and are preparing for the next full moon in July - any help the community can give us by reporting wandering dogs would be appreciated."

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the council was committed to helping the community find a solution, in an area where there was a lot of stock and a mix or rural and urban properties.

"We've seen some horrific cases of dog attacks and we are all coming together to say these dogs need to be found and the owners prosecuted.

Of the attacks to date, five dogs had been impounded at the council's animal control centre, three summary prosecutions were pending, and two dogs had been returned to their owners who were fined, said Hastings District Council regulatory solutions manager John Payne.

If prosecutions were successful, dog owners were required to pay fines and reparation for damage caused - and if the owners did not surrender the dogs to be put down, a judge could order that to happen, he said.

In preparation for the next full moon, he said the council was taking a number of steps.

"We have increased both night and day patrols, and have widened the area where these patrols are happening.

"Unfortunately these dogs are a product of their environment - their owners are not looking after them properly."

In the Hastings district there were 13,500 registered dogs, but it was usually the ones the council did not know about that caused most of the issues, he said.