Cruelty investigation under way after pet sheep 'executed' with rifle

An animal cruelty investigation has been launched after a pet sheep was shot through the head with a rifle.

The RSPCA said the sheep was "effectively executed" and it was now looking into what it described as a string of separate incidents targeting a single farm's animals.

Inspectors are making a public appeal for information after a family's much-loved pet sheep, Shaun, was found with a fatal bullet wound on Thursday, July 19.

One of the family's horses had previously been found slashed and whipped more than 40 times by a mystery assailant, the RSPCA said.

Shaun the sheep
Shaun the sheep

Another farmer has also moved his flock from a neighbouring field after two of the sheep had their ears cut off while grazing.

RSPCA inspector Natalie Perehovsky said: "The sheep's owners went to tend to their flock early Thursday morning and found one of the rams dead in the field.

"He had seemingly been shot in the head.

"It's not the first time their animals have been attacked and they're now, understandably, very worried that they're being targeted deliberately."

The ram was found in a field at the family's farm at Colton near Rugeley, Staffordshire.

Three other sheep in the field at the time were uninjured, and all had been hand-reared by the family.

Trevor Street, the sheep's owner, said: "Shaun was the most friendly sheep.

"Words can't describe how angry I am that this has happened.

"He'd been shot in the head with a rifle. It has obviously been done by someone who knows what they are doing."

Six weeks ago, one of the family's horses, Faith, was found by Mr Street and his partner Sharon Webley, covered in slash and whip marks.

Faith the horse
Faith the horse

Mr Street said: "We've had lots of things happen over the past 18 months.

"It started with silly things like gates being opened in paddocks and the chickens being let out of the coop.

"But now it's becoming horrendous. It's the animals I'm worried about."

He added items have gone missing, fences damaged, rugs stolen off horses when grazing, and dangerous items like rakes left in stables and barns, where they could harm the animals.

Ms Perehovsky said: "Shaun the sheep was effectively executed in the field, it's extremely disturbing.

"I'd like to hear from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area either early on Thursday morning or late on Wednesday, or anyone who may have heard a gunshot.

"Anyone with information that might help our investigation should get in touch with us by calling 0300 123 8018 and leaving me a message."

The RSPCA said it was liaising with the police.