Published: 13:16, 08 April 2019
| Updated: 16:59, 08 April 2019
A farmer was forced to shoot a pregnant ewe dead after its udder and womb had been ripped out by dogs.
The ewe had been due to give birth to twin lambs within the next week, before it was attacked in a field off Biddenden Road, St Michaels, Tenterden.
Another pregnant ewe was discovered dead in a pond with its neck torn, while two domestic dogs, described as a black labrador and a large grey dog, stood barking at the corpse.
WARNING: Graphic images
Farmer Adrian Lidgett says that he would have shot the dogs during the attack if he had his gun with him.
Mr Lidgett was alerted to the attack on Saturday afternoon. He said: "A neighbour called me to say there were two dogs running between the sheep and separating them and when I got to the field I found one dead sheep in a pond and the other half dead in a field.
"I had to shoot the ewe, which I have brought up from a lamb and cared for daily."
The farmer who keeps around 40 sheep said he had to move the flock out of the field because they were all in distress.
He added: "Police attended and took swabs from the carcasses to identify the dogs responsible."
The dogs' owner has since been traced, cautioned and agreed to pay Mr Lidgett's costs via a community resolution order, which he estimates to be £1,000.
It's the third dog attack Mr Lidgett has experienced on his flock in his 35-year career as a farmer. In one previous incident two loose Jack Russell dogs killed five ewes and four lambs in the space of 10 minutes, with the other attack coming from dogs accompanying a rabbit hunt in which three ewes were lost.
A police spokesman said rural task force officers were dealing with the incident, which happened at 3.12pm on Saturday.
Sergeant Darren Walshaw of the rural task force said: "In incidents such as this we will always take into account the wishes of the victim and consider all possible outcomes ranging from a prosecution at court or a community resolution whereby the owner of the dog will compensate the victim for the loss of his livestock.
"Incidents like these can have a devastating impact on those keeping livestock. I would like to remind all dog owners of the responsibility they have to keep their pets under control, especially when they are around livestock. A farmer has a legal right to shoot dogs worrying their animals if there is no other reasonable way of stopping the attack."
He added: "All incidents of sheep worrying are investigated by my officers and we remain committed to reducing the number of incidents in the county."
Isobel Bretherton, National Farmers' Union spokesman for the south-east said: “This is another terrible incident and our thoughts go to the farmer and livestock affected. Please keep your dog on a lead in the countryside and prevent a tragedy, rather than letting it run freely, as farm animals may be nearby.
"All dogs have a chase instinct and no matter how well behaved your dog, there is a risk that your pet may chase and attack livestock."