The moor is my castle
A mother said farmers have been given "a licence to kill" after magistrates cleared a former army marksman of animal cruelty for shooting dead her son's Dalmatian puppy.
Terence John Blackburn, 73, of Myrtle Farm, Cross Roads, Keighley, shot Bandit, a nine-month-old puppy belonging to Sebastian Beckett, 14, after seeing two white dogs chasing his... pregnant ewes - seven of which later died - into woodland at his farm. He shouted and screamed at the dogs and they ran off, the court heard.
... then (he) took a rifle and three shotgun cartridges back to the Denholme farm.
Why do I have feeling at this point that the reporter hasn't got a clue - rifle, shotgun carts...
Mr Blackburn's solicitor Robin Frieze asked the farmer why he had shot the dogs. He replied: "For the simple reason that I knew they would go back for my sheep."
Mr Blackburn, who has been a farmer for nearly 60 years, said it was the first time in two decades he had had to kill a dog. He said: "It is shocking. It is not our job to kill livestock, it is our job to keep them alive. I don't know a farmer who loves shooting a dog. It is not the dog's fault. It is the owner's."..
The magistrates decided that the RSPCA had not proved that Mr Blackburn had broken the law when he shot the dogs.
Chairman Glynis Wilkinson said Mr Blackburn "genuinely and reasonably" perceived the dogs to be a threat to his sheep and their unborn lambs.
Following the verdict, Sebastian Beckett's mum, Dot Hardaker, of Ogden Lane, Denholme, said: "I am utterly gutted. The magistrates have given farmers a licence to kill as far as I am concerned.
"I am proud of my son for wanting to tell what happened that day. He was very brave but now he is very upset."
Dot Hardaker points out:.. the puppy was on a lead and the dogs had been out of my sons sight for only 10/15 minutes..
the facts, they were out for 30 minutes..
I would like to state catagorically that my dogs were never near sheep, indeed the nearest sheep of Mr Blackburns were in a field over 50 acres away as stated in his statement, the dogs had been playing and bouncing about on the moorland which is adjacent to my back garden unsupervised for just over 10 minutes.