Killer dogs slaughter 38 sheep
Dead animals could 'leave farmers thousands of pounds out of pocket'
Vicious dogs mauled almost 40 sheep to death in two separate attacks over the past 10 days.
The mass slaughter happened on farmland in the Londonderry area.
The carcasses of 38 sheep were found in fields in the Whitehouse Road and Groarty Road areas of Derry after the two killing sprees.
Greysteel farmer Patrick McNichol, who has lost part of his flock in the same way in the past, said discovering savaged sheep was a sickening thing for any man in his position to experience.
He added: "This is a terrible thing for any sheep farmer and these particular attacks could not have happened at a worse time for the two farmers involved.
"These particular sheep will very likely be heavy in lamb or at least impregnated.
"It is a disaster for the rest of the flock as well because they will have been badly affected by being chased by these dogs and are at a high risk of aborting their lambs, so the financial loss to the farmer could easily run into thousands of pounds.
"This won't have been the work of one dog, it will have been at least two or three.
"The thing is, no one thinks their wee dog would be capable, but any dog is capable of killing when it is along with two or three others."
Derry City and Strabane District Council called on owners to keep their pets under control and warned that there would be increased patrols by wardens and stray dogs would be taken off the streets.
Seamus Donaghy, council head of health, community and wellbeing, said farmers in the area were worried about future attacks.
He added: "Not only is there the financial implications of the loss of these animals, but it is deeply distressing for the owners of these animals to see them mauled and attacked in this manner.
"The council's dog wardens have been patrolling the area after reports that two large dogs have been seen straying. We are urging dog owners to act responsibly and to keep their dogs on a lead and supervised at all times."
He also urged farmers to be vigilant and assured them extra patrols by the wardens would take place in an effort to halt the slaughter, adding that under Article 28 (1) of the Dog Amendment Act 2011, a maximum fine of £1,000 can be imposed for the crime.