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Thursday 23 November 2017

Farmer cries in court as he recalls how his sheep were 'ripped asunder' by Alsatians

An emotional Mr. Kehoe told the court that two of the dogs were covered in blood. Stock image.
An emotional Mr. Kehoe told the court that two of the dogs were covered in blood. Stock image.
Stock photo
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

A farmer was reduced to tears at Carrick on Suir District Court recently, as he recalled the day his sheep were “ripped asunder” by vicious dogs.

John Hanrahan, of Ballycurkeen, Carrick on Suir was charged with two incidents under Section 9.1 of the Control of Dogs Act, both of which occurred during the summer of 2014. Mr Hanrahan was not in court himself to face the charges.

Local farmer Brian Kehoe told the court that on August 19, 2014 at around 6.30pm he was cutting silage with his brother in law when his wife rang him to say “the dogs were back attacking my sheep.”

He was on his way to the field where his sheep were kept when his son rang him saying he feared for his life. “Two dogs were attacking him while he was trying to protect the sheep,” Mr Kehoe said.

He added that his son followed the dogs across the field back to Mr Hanrahan’s property and he arrived shortly afterwards.

When Mr Kehoe arrived at Mr Hanrahan’s property he saw, what he described as “six vicious cross breed Alsatians".

Mr Hanrahan came out of his house and Mr Kehoe said he told him that his dogs had attacked his sheep. “I told him his dogs had just destroyed my lambs. He wouldn’t accept it until the gardai arrived.”

An emotional Mr Kehoe told the court that two of the dogs were covered in blood. “They were barking at me and showing their teeth. There was wool on their teeth. They were savage."

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Mr Kehoe lost 10 sheep in total, he told the court. “My animals were ripped asunder. Three lambs died straight away and a number of others were seriously injured and died a few days later." He said the cost of the lost animals was approximately €1,000.

Another incident pertaining to July 29, 2014 was relayed to the court when Mr Kehoe came into his field and saw one lamb dead. “Then I saw another and another and it dawned on me what had happened. There were ten lambs dead and another ten critically injured after being attacked by dogs.” He said he saw the dogs go in the direction of Mr Hanrahan’s house.

Mr Kehoe described the damage caused on both occasions as “horrendous". “One lamb was just in shock. His nervous system was just keeping him alive. It was horrific for me and my family."

David Kehoe, Brian Kehoe’s son gave evidence in relation to the August 19 attack. On the day in question he had received a call from a neighbour to say that the sheep were in a bad state. He drove over to the field and saw two large Alsatian cross dogs. They had a lamb caught, he said.

“I started blowing the horn to distract them. I was shouting and roaring. They stopped attacking the sheep and came towards me. They were covered in blood, snarling at me. I was in fear of my life. I picked up a hammer from the car to protect myself,” he said.

After a while Mr Hanrahan came out and said he’d lock up the dogs for a while. “I told him they had to be put down and I wanted to see them with my own eyes to make sure it was done". Mr Kehoe junior said Mr Hanrahan rang him at 11.30 pm that night to say that the dogs had been put down.

“I went up to his house and there were six dogs, dead inside the bucket of the JCB.” When asked by gardai if he saw the dogs that had followed him, he said he did.

Dirk Huntenberg, a local vet, gave evidence that he put Mr Hanrahan’s dogs down on August 19. Meanwhile another vet, Daniel Mulroy of Suirside Vets said he attended to Mr Kehoe’s injured sheep on August 21. He said he saw puncture wounds on the necks and hind quarters of the sheep consistent with a dog attack. Mr Mulroy said the flock appeared very worried, “much more so than the sheep would normally be".

Gardai told the court that the total cost of the damage caused on both occasions came to over €2,000.

Judge John King said he was satisfied that all elements of the offences, as laid out in evidence had been proven. “There is capacity for a prison sentence under this offence of up to three months,” he said.

“Because the defendant could potentially be in danger of a prison sentence, I will issue a bench warrant before sentencing," he said, adding that he wanted to see what efforts had been made to compensate Mr Kehoe before he issued sentencing.

Mr Hanrahan recently made headlines when the Supreme Court ruled in recent weeks that he is entitled to €299,000 damages, plus interest, over the Department of Agriculture's failure to return 233 of 355 cattle seized from his farm following a dispute about their welfare, in a court case that dates back to 2006.

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