Rita Whitely, pictured with Rosie, one of her remaining sheep d26101175
Rita Whitely, pictured with Rosie, one of her remaining sheep d26101175

A HEARTBROKEN family’s pet sheep was brutally savaged to death in a field.

Rita and Derrick Whiteley have spoken out after the couple’s eight-year-old Jacob sheep called Lily was ‘ripped to shreds’ by dogs during the early hours of Monday.

The couple have a small stables on land near their Spen Lane home in Gomersal, which holds a pony, foals and three remaining sheep – including Lily’s sister Rosie.

Rita, 70, was alerted by a neighbour in the middle of the night, after hearing dogs barking in the field.

“It was 2.50am when she rang, asking if my own dogs were outside because there was a lot of barking coming from our field. My dogs were locked up at the time,” Rita said.

“When I came down to see to the sheep in the morning, Lily was just lying there with her throat torn out.

“It’s really upsetting because Lily was bottle fed by us from being a lamb. Our animals are like part of the family, more like pets than anything else.

“We’re very much animal lovers, I’ve kept animals for more than 67 years.”

Rita has called on dog owners to be more responsible with their pets and make sure they are properly secured at night and not left to roam the fields.

She added: “It’s important that pets are kept under control. We have a sign on the land that says dogs should be on a lead.

“But what can you do if they are left to roam during the night. Our dogs are never off the lead unless they are at the stables but they are gated then.”

The family wants dog owners to be more responsible and Kathy Hirst, of the Yorkshire Rose Rescue charity, in Birkenshaw, backed Rita’s calls for dog owners to wise up.

“I have dogs that chase livestock given half the chance, so we always say dogs should be kept under control at all times,” she said. “It’s a case of being sensible and not letting the dogs out of your sight.You get latch-key dogs which are very street-wise but just because they know not to run into a road, doesn’t make it right for them to be left out all night.”