Couple who left sheep in distress for four days banned from keeping animals

The distressed sheep. Picture: RSPCA
The distressed sheep. Picture: RSPCA

A Stoke Mandeville couple have been banned from keeping animals for two years and given community service after leaving their pet sheep in distress for four days and allowing their flock to go hungry.

John and Christine Cooper were told by a passerby that one of their eight hand-reared sheep had fallen over on February 2.

Four days later an RPSCA inspector and a vet found the animal still on its back, with wounds suggesting it had been attacked by a dog.

The skin on its shoulders and hips had been rubbed raw as it flailed its legs trying to get up for four days.

The RSPCA said it was not clear if the dog attack had forced it on to its back or if the dog had taken advantage of the distressed sheep.

All the Cooper’s sheep were thin because they had lost all their teeth, meaning they could not graze, and had not been given alternative food.

The vet decided to put the downed sheep to sleep to end its suffering.

A post-mortem showed it had bites to its bottom, rump and neck, was suffering from osteoarthritis and was emaciated.

Inspector Rachel Smith said: “These pet sheep were suffering because their owners had never investigated how to care for sheep properly.

“They were not being given an adequate diet and had not received attention from a vet.

“It was very distressing to see this poor animal, suffering so badly and to know that she had been in this position for four days.”

Mr Cooper, 59, and Mrs Cooper, 57, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering.

They were both ordered by Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court to do 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £2,200 costs, as well as being disqualified from owning any animals for two years.