WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
A young family has been left devastated after a dog attack decimated their flock of sheep.
David Larkins and Lauren Catanchin ran a total of five ewes, one ram and one lamb on their Jellat Jellat property.
But after the attack at the end of August, only two ewes and the lamb survived.
Also, as several of the ewes killed were almost at the end of their pregnancies, the couple estimated they had also lost up to five unborn lambs.
After the family contacted South East Local Land Services about the incident, they were told it was not the work of a wild dog, but a domestic one.
“It’s a bit scary to think a dog that can do that can come into our property," Ms Catanchin said.
Her partner said he never expected their livestock would be attacked by a domestic dog in Jellat Jellat.
“There’s nothing pleasant about death by dog,” Mr Larkins said.
On the morning after the attack, he and a neighbour went into the paddock and found two ewes in the sleeping area covered in blood.
After looking for the others they found them scattered around the paddock while the ram was already dead in the gully. Luckily, a ewe that had already lambed had been taken up to a yard closer to the house.
Due to the severity of their injuries – one for example had a hole it its trachea – several had to be put down. Later, the only ewe that survived gave birth to two stillborn lambs.
If it’s not sheep it’s still going to be wombats, it’s still going to be wallabies; they’re going to be out there killing something.David Larkins
Jake Tanner, South East LLS local manager for the Far South Coast, said when assessing whether wild or domestic dogs were involved in an attack, there were several considerations that needed to be addressed.
These included the location and nature of the injuries on the impacted livestock - if the sheep was mauled around the head and neck or if the hamstrings torn out and there were obvious attempts at accessing the organs such as the kidneys.
“After inspecting the scene a determination was made that the attack was carried out by a domestic dog," Mr Tanner said.
“This determination was based on the evidence at the scene.”
The family, who has lived at Jellat Jellat for two-and-a-half years, said they originally purchased the sheep in order to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle; to keep the grass down and raise them for meat.
Mr Larkins estimated the attack would cost him $2500, including the loss of his animals and vet bills.
While they are considering buying more sheep again, they said first they plan to build a dog-proof yard and lock their flock up at night.
They also had a message for dog owners.
“Just make sure your dogs are locked up at night,” Mr Larkins said.
“If it’s not in the home or tied up, you don’t know what it’s doing.
“If it’s not sheep it’s still going to be wombats, it’s still going to be wallabies; they’re going to be out there killing something.”
Council’s investigative powers
A spokesperson for Bega Valley Shire Council said council rangers were informed about the incident.
“Unfortunately without a dog being identified (or even a description) there were significant limitations on what was able to be done,” they said.
“In order to be able to use all the investigative powers and tools available to the rangers (as per the Companion Animals Act), it is vital that the responsible animal is either identified or at the very least a description can be provided.
“Investigative options stretch as far as being able to use DNA technology when necessary.”