Two south Wexford farmers have been left devastated following a frenzied attack by two dogs that left 14 sheep dead.
The farmers were greeted with the shock sight early on Saturday morning as they went out to tend to their flock.
The attacks took place at neighbouring farms in Murrintown, just outside Wexford town and close to Johnstown Castle.
One farmer lost of eight sheep, the other six, and a further seven required veterinary assistance. However, should they survive, there are major fears for what may come down the line as lambing season approaches.
Margo Gleeson, who runs one of the farms in Murrintown with partner Aidan Duggan, said the impact of the attack on their flock goes far beyond the financial.
"We had eight sheep killed with another seven seriously injured; the injured ones have been stitched up and are receiving injections to try and stop the infection.
"The injuries they suffered were horrific, one had its entire rear end clawed off, its stomach ripped open with its innards spread out across the field. The ones which survived had bite marks on their rear end, had been clawed and scratched.
"The repercussions will be felt for a long time, all the ewes are in lamb and we don't know how many of them end up aborting or if the lambs will be stillborn," she said.
First alerted to the attack on Saturday morning, Margo, Aidan and five others spent nine hours searching for a flock which had scattered far and wide following the attack.
"The emotional toll has been huge, none of those who were out searching for those sheep on Saturday slept a wink that night. At the moment we have a pile of dead sheep in the yard, and we have three children in the house. We have to try and explain to them why they can't go outside like they usually do," Margo said.
"This is the fourth attack we have suffered in the 12 years I've been here. The previous one weren't as severe as this one. All we've heard from the guards is that the owner is apologetic, but to say we're traumatised is an understatement."
Calling for dog owners to receive more severe punishment in cases like this, Margo said a fine simply doesn't cut it under the circumstances.
"A fine is nowhere near enough punishment. These dogs are roaming free. There has to be more serious repercussions for the owners. If your dog is not locked up or in a secure area or indoors at night then this is something which can happen.
"And dogs roam together, they're pack animals, in their mind this was just a bit of sport. We estimate the attack began at midnight and carried on until 4am."
Chair of the Wexford branch of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) Dessie Green confirmed that both dogs responsible had been tracked down by Gardaí and had been euthanised.
"These dogs had come about two miles," Greene said. "The Gardaí came out and they managed to track down the two dogs responsible and were put down. These were both family pets and were well looked after and well fed. Dogs are unusual like that. Once they go after sheep, you won't get them off it."
Greene has warned dog owners across Co Wexford to ensure that they know where their animal are at all times, particularly during lambing season.