United Kingdom

Farmer fatally blasts family's beloved cockapoo Benji in the face with a shotgun

The wife of a farmer who shot dead a family's beloved cockapoo named Benji said the dog was chasing their sheep for 20 minutes and insisted they are 'animal lovers'.  

Kerri Malley, 40, from Winterley, Cheshire, was walking Benji, three, near a sheep field when he bolted away from her.

She said the dog ran off when it got a shock after it touched an electric fence.

But by the time she found Benji he had been shot by the farmer, Robert Holdcroft, who had allegedly claimed the dog was worrying his animals.

However, when approached by MailOnline, the wife of Mr Holdcroft claimed Ms Malley's dog was in their field for 20 minutes and had chased their sheep into a dip with a pond in.

She said it took a 'long time' for Mr Holdcroft to get the sheep out and added that although they are 'animal lovers', they were 'well within our rights' to shoot the dog.  

A dog owner was left distraught after a farmer shot and killed her tiny cockapoo when it strayed onto his field. Kerri Malley, 40, from Winterley, Cheshire, was walking Benji, three, near a sheep field when he bolted away from her. Pictured: The dog with Ms Malley's daughters, Scarlett (left), Seren and Sienna

Ms Malley had claimed she entered the field - waving her arms to attract the farmer - who was stood by his Land Rover.

The mother-of-three claims when she asked him if he'd seen her pet, he said: 'Yes, I've shot it, help yourself, it's in the back'.

It was only when she looked in the trailer she said she saw the family pet had been shot and was barely breathing, she claimed.

And despite rushing to the vets, Benji sadly died just minutes after they arrived.

Cheshire Constabulary investigated and said Mr Holdcroft 'found a dog attacking a sheep' and was allowed to shoot it. 

But Ms Malley is calling for a change in the law.

She said the dog ran off when it got a shock after it touched an electric fence. But by the time she found Benji he had been shot by the farmer, Robert Holdcroft, who had allegedly claimed the dog was worrying his animals

She said: 'My Benji was lying there. I fell to my knees in complete shock of what I was witnessing. 

'Nothing I do now can bring him back.

'I think there needs to be a greater awareness to dog owners of the implications when choosing to let your dog off its lead.

'I am not condoning sheep worrying and its lack of importance, but there has to be a more humane way to deal with it in this day and age.'

However, when approached by MailOnline, the family of Mr Holdcroft claimed Ms Malley's dog was in their field for 20 minutes and had chased their sheep into a dip with a pond in. Pictured: Mr Holdcroft's farm

 They said it took a 'long time' for Mr Holdcroft to get the sheep out and added that although they are 'animal lovers', they were 'well within our rights' to shoot the dog

Devastated Ms Malley claims she entered the field - waving her arms to attract the farmer - who was stood by his Land Rover. The mother-of-three claims when she asked him if he'd seen her pet, he said: 'Yes, I've shot it, help yourself, it's in the back'

However, whilst Mr Holdcroft was not himself available for comment, his wife defended her husband's actions.

She told MailOnline: 'We are all animal lovers .

'The dog was in the field for 20 minutes, chasing sheep into a dip which has a pond in it. 

'It took Rob a long time to get the sheep out. The dog was on our land and we were well within our rights. 

“In fact, the police even asked us if we wanted to prosecute the dog owner but we have decided to leave it and that’s all we want to say.'

Ms Malley, a director at a car credit company, was walking with her sister-in-law, baby nephew, and their dog in Sandbach, Cheshire, when the incident happened on November 13.

She lost sight of her 17-inch tall pup when he bolted off, and after a ten minute search, she approached the farmer.

'I climbed through the hedge, the barbed wire and over the electric fence myself in hot pursuit of Benji, but I was unable to get into the other field, where the sheep were, as the mud was so deep,' she said.

'I had to go back on myself and round the outside, so covered about a quarter of a mile.

'Benji was out of my sight for a maximum of ten minutes until the time I found him.'

Explaining what happened when she found the farmer, she added: 'He replied; "Yes, I've shot it, help yourself, it's in the back."

'What he'd said didn't register at first- I felt a huge sigh of relief, thinking that he would be in the back, with his cheeky face, knowing he was in some trouble for running off.'

Cheshire Constabulary investigated and said the farmer 'found a dog attacking a sheep' and was allowed to shoot it. Pictured: Benji with Ms Malley's daughter Scarlett

'I went to remove Benji's collar and couldn't believe he was still breathing; his eyes were still open and he was losing a lot of blood,' she said.

'We raced out the field with him in my husband's arms and took him straight to the vets.

'The vets did everything in their power to save him but the damage done by the shotgun made that impossible for them.'  

Ms Malley, a director at a car credit company, was walking with her sister-in-law, baby nephew, and their dog in Sandbach, Cheshire, when the incident happened on November 13. Pictured: Benji with Ms Malley's husband Adam

'We let both dogs off the lead at the point that we felt it was safe to do so, with no livestock in sight and no signage to tell us otherwise,' she said.  

Under the Animals Act 1971 it is legal to shoot a dog that is 'worrying' livestock, if the farmer believes sheep were in immediate danger and the actions were reasonable.

A spokesperson from Cheshire Constabulary said: 'Officers received a report at around 2.30pm on Friday 13 November in the Sandbach area, a farmer had found a dog attacking a sheep.

'The farmer, unable to contain the dog and in order to protect the livestock, shot the dog in accordance with the Animals Act 1971 which resulted in the dog's death.

'The farmer immediately informed the police, officers carried out an investigation and found that no criminal offences had taken place.

'The owners of the dog have been informed.

'During the course of the investigation, further reports of malicious communications were made and enquiries are ongoing.'

The farmer could not be contacted for comment.

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