A devastated couple have spoken of their heartbreak after their two border collies were shot dead by a farmer after they escaped into a sheep field – while they were at a boarding kennels.
Heartbroken June and Chris Roden left their beloved pets Millie, one, and her brother Benson, three, while they went on holiday to their villa in Andalucia, Spain.
But halfway through their four-week break they received the shattering news that both dogs had been blasted in the chest by a local farmer after they escaped into neighbouring field.
They were shot when they escaped from a seven-acre training field at Brookend Boarding Kennels in Leigh Sinton, Worcs., on the afternoon on September 11.
According to the owners of the kennels, the pair scaled an 8ft high perimeter fence and were “worrying” sheep when the farmer opened fire.
Chris, 62, a director of a rivet distribution company, and wife June, 67, who owns a furniture shop, are now demanding an inquiry into why their pets were killed.
Father-of-two Chris said: “My wife and I are heartbroken, they were gorgeous dogs and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
“They were members of our family – those dogs are irreplaceable.
“Their mother was a working sheep dog so herding sheep was in their blood, the farmer claimed the dogs had pinned a sheep down but that’s rubbish – no sheep were even injured.
“The farmer simply executed our pets for no reason.
“I am furious the kennel let this happen. They boast about having a large training field to exercise the dogs but you would expect this to be secure.
“Millie is an incredible jumper and even when she was nine months old she was leaping over five-bar gates.
“She must have leapt over the fence somehow and Benson followed. They were devoted to each other.
“Both dogs were killed by gunshot wounds to the chest so they were obviously bounding towards the farmer when he opened fire.
“Apparently after the shooting, a member of staff from the kennels saw the farmer carrying a shotgun and he told him ‘you after those dogs? Well they’re in the brook. They were distressing the livestock’.”
When the couple were told the devastating news, they drove hundreds of miles home to bury their pets at the grounds of their home in Stockton-on-Teme, Worcs.
June said: “We’re just devastated and we couldn’t believe it.
“They were just gorgeous dogs and a big part of our home life.
“It was discovered that Millie could jump the gate in the exercise field during a previous stay at the kennels, but she came straight back when called.
“I was concerned about leaving her and Benson there again, but knew that as long as staff accompanied them they would not run off.”
The Worcestershire Regulatory Services, (WRS) which is responsible for dog wardens and licensing kennels, has launched an investigation into the deaths after it emerged staff only realised Millie and Benson were missing after 20 minutes.
Les Childs, owner of the kennels, said: “My wife and I were deeply upset.
“We’ve seven acres of ground here. We are still not sure how they managed to get out. It’s just been really tragic.
“We have had 60,000 dogs use that field and over the eight years we’ve been here there’s been no incidents.
“They [Mr and Mrs Roden] did sign to say that their dogs could go off lead and go into fields.
“They were aware that one of the dogs continually jumped the fence and they still brought their dogs to us after that. We do everything we can to make sure the dogs are safe.”
June and Chris reported the matter to the police, RSPCA, and Worcestershire County Council.
Andy Ferguson, WRS central operations manager said: “Worcestershire Regulatory Services is investigating the events that led up to the shooting.
“Once the facts have been established we will decide what action, if any, should be taken.”
West Mercia Police questioned the farmer who shot the dogs but are not taking any further action.
But an RSPCA official confirmed that the charity was looking into the incident.
He said: “This will be passed to an inspector who will look into the matter.
“Incidents like this are extremely sad and regrettable for all concerned.”