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Farmer receives death threats after shooting dog in sheep-worrying incident

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A farmer has received death threats after shooting a dog that savaged his sheep at a farm in Fife.

Dave Bell has been targeted by animal lovers after being accused of tying the Siberian husky to a tractor and killing it at the Balcarres Estate in Colinsburgh.

The dog’s owner, Michael McCaffrey, has claimed his pet was restrained and destroyed in front of his eyes after entering a field of sheep at the estate on Thursday afternoon.

A lamb and an adult ewe died in the incident, and it’s understood that further animals could yet be lost.

A source described Mr Bell as a “respected grazing tenant” who had notified the estate and police after the incident.

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Mr Bell declined to comment when approached by The Courier, however he has been targeted by a number of online comments threatening his life.

One person wrote: “Someone needs to go down there and shoot him”, while another said: “I would kill him, END OF.”

Mr McCaffrey accepts that his dog, called Stark, was in the field of sheep but says that Mr Bell did not need to resort to shooting his pet, which he says had escaped from his garden after a gate was left open.

He said: “He had the dog tied up – the damage had already been done and it wasn’t going to get any worse.

“I totally respect that the sheep are his livelihood, but Stark was no longer a threat once he was tied up. Whatever their loss, I would have compensated them for it.

“I don’t condone it (the sheep worrying), I know it’s wrong. Had a vet had to put him down I would have accepted that – he’s done what he’s done and would have to take the punishment. If he’d still been running about then yes, shoot him but the fact was he had caught him

“It’s hard to take in – it hit home when I had to carry him out of the field and all the way home.

“I can’t stop thinking about it – it’s an image that will stay  with me forever.

“I want to see his shotgun licence taken away so that no one else has to go through this.”

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He said he had bred Stark from his 10-year-old husky Dakota and raised him from birth.

He said: “The sheep are there to make money for them – they don’t have names and he wouldn’t have known what day it was born. Income can be replaced, but Stark can’t.”

Police Scotland confirmed the incident was under investigation.

A spokeswoman for the force said: “Police Scotland are investigating following an incident involving live stock.

“The incident occurred around 5.30pm on April 27 at a farm near to Balcarres Mains in Leven.

“A joint investigation between Fife Council and the Police is ongoing to establish the full circumstances.”

Under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, dog owners have a duty to keep their pets on a short lead and away from farm animals.

The Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 provides a defence for a landowner or farmer who kills a dog to protect livestock. However, there must be proof there were no other practicable means of preventing the dog from attacking the animals.

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