A Tucker Beach man has complained to police about the shooting of his dogs by two prominent Queenstown farmers.
Hansen Road resident Chas Recordon approached the Mountain Scene about the shootings on August 7 of his dogs Oscar and Roxy by former rugby Highlander Kelvin Middleton, who owns Queenstown Hill Station, and his father Arnold.
Roxy, an 18-month-old Jack Russell, was killed, while Jack Russell-fox terrier cross Oscar, 13, was blinded in one eye and left with 52 pieces of shot in his body.
Recordon says he believes Oscar was shot illegally on a public road, and is also looking at bringing a case with the SPCA against the Middletons for cruelty.
“If you shoot a dog, whether legitimately or not, you’ve got to kill it instantly.”
But Kelvin Middleton says Recordon received fair warning about his dogs roaming, and reluctantly took action after they killed newborn lambs.
“I issued three warnings regarding the dogs being on the farm, the first time one was caught and returned to the owners, who were talked to at that stage by dog control.”
“Sadly for everyone involved, the warnings to keep the dogs off the property were not heeded and the dogs continued to roam among the stock on our land.”
Recordon says he recognises farmers’ legal right to shoot dogs roaming on their land. He also accepts he’s ultimately responsible for the incident because his property’s not fully fenced.
But he thinks there’s a distinction between legal and moral behaviour, and is angry at the Middletons for shooting small pet dogs with no history of worrying sheep.
He knows Oscar and Roxy were on the Middletons’ property twice in the month before the shootings, and was warned by a council dog control officer after Oscar was impounded.
But any subsequent complaints were not passed on to him.
“We never knew the dogs had been there again.”
When he bumped into the farmer at a cafe a few days after the impounding, he says Kelvin Middleton told him he wouldn’t shoot a “little pet dog”.
That had reassured him the Middletons would apply restraint if they saw the dogs on their land again.
Recordon says that on the evening of August 7, his wife came home from the vet to tell him the dogs had been shot and an angry Arnold Middleton had been at their home looking for Oscar.
Middleton senior told her he had shot Oscar but only “winged” him.
A neighbour had heard a gun shot from about 100 metres away at the top of Hansen Rd, soon after seeing Middleton senior driving at speed across the farm, he says.
When he went to Middleton senior’s home that night, the latter boasted about how many dogs he’d shot and refused to give him Roxy’s body, he says.
It was handed over to police a few days later.
Kelvin Middleton says it’s true he told Recordon he never wants to shoot pet dogs.
“However in this conversation I also said if the dogs are running among our stock, we will do so.
“This incident could have been avoided if the dog owners had taken responsibility and kept their dogs within the confines of their property or under supervision while out in the neighbourhood.”
Because the matter’s with police, he doesn’t want to speak in more detail, and his father doesn’t want to comment.
Recordon says the Dog Control Act gives farmers too much leeway, and needs to be changed to recognise the continuing expansion of suburbia into rural areas. Farmers should have to show a local authority photographic evidence a dog is worrying their sheep. The dog’s owner should then be warned before the guns are brought out.
Oscar, who is slowly recovering from his injuries, is now confined to a part of his property with an electronic training ‘fence’ that uses sound to discourage him wandering off, he says.