A Lower Shotover couple denied washing blood off their dogs during a confrontation with a neighbouring farm manager over a frenzied attack on a flock of lambs.
The manager, Jason Glendining, had to destroy three of the lambs after the attack in May last year on a Spence Road property.
Graphic photos taken by a council officer, depicting a horror scene of dead and injured lambs with gaping wounds in their throats, legs and abdomen, were included in evidence presented at a council hearing on Tuesday.
At the hearing Graeme and Vicky Rodwell denied their pet schnauzers Pepper and Pennie were responsible, and pleaded for a menacing dog classification to be overturned.
The schnauzers were slapped with the classification after a council investigation concluded they attacked the lambs.
The dogs disappeared for half an hour while being walked by the couple - without leads - near the old Shotover River bridge.
A witness, Logan Heaney, stopped at the scene after seeing one of the dogs on the road, and after photographing both dogs and the injured sheep, asked his partner to contact Glendining.
When Glendining confronted the couple, Graeme Rodwell denied his dogs were responsible.
In a statement to a council officer, he claims he was dissolving snow that had collected on their legs.
The couple told the panel of councillors - Lyal Cocks, Mel Gazzard and Scott Stevens - they didn’t accept Pepper and Pennie were responsible, but conceded it’s “possible”.
Since the incident they’ve upgraded a boundary fence, employed a dog trainer and taken their younger dog for obedience classes “so that it cannot happen again”.
“I would have thought it would be reasonable, on that basis, that we be given a second chance,” Rodwell says.
He suggests a demerit points system for dog owners like that for errant drivers.
Vicky Rodwell says it’s unfair that after 17 months with no further incident, the classification remains on their dogs “for the rest of their lives”.
Stevens says wandering dogs are a growing issue for the district as residential development encroaches into rural areas.
The couple should consider themselves lucky, Stevens says - as many farmers shoot dogs wandering on their property.
A menacing dog classification means a dog must be confined to a vehicle or cage or muzzled while in a public place.
The panel is expected to release its decision within a week.