A Kerikeri family's Christmas has been soured by the grisly killing of five pet sheep by marauding dogs.
The overnight attack has police warning stock owners in the area to be vigilant, and urging the dogs' owners to come forward before police track them down.
The dead animals, three of which had been hand-reared from 10 days old, belonged to Karen and Roger Talbot and their children Danielle, 6, and Lincoln, 3.
The Talbots made the grisly discovery at their semi-rural Hone Heke Rd property yesterday morning.
Neighbours heard a commotion around 5am but the Talbots were oblivious, thanks to double-glazing, until they woke up to the sight of sheep carcasses strewn across their paddock.
Some had their throats ripped open while others had their entrails torn out. One had tried to find safety on top of a wood pile, another was found in a pond.
Ms Talbot said the three lambs had only been weaned last week.
While they were being raised for meat, the children had grown attached to them and they were tame enough to come running when called.
"We thought we'd get some lambs for the kids ... now look at them, just because someone's got dogs that are out of control. It's pretty devastating."
Mrs Talbot said she wanted the dogs destroyed before any other stock were killed, especially now they had a taste for blood.
"And what if it had happened during the day, when out kids were out there? It could have been a lot worse than just five sheep," she said.
Just minutes after the Advocate's visit, about 11.45am yesterday, a pair of dogs, possibly Staffordshire bull terrier crosses and both with leather collars, emerged from the bush and skulked around the paddock.
The Talbots again called police and dog control, Sergeant Phil Le Comte of Kerikeri police saying the attacks were a message to all dog owners to make sure their dogs were under control and contained at night.
"With animals like this on the loose we've got concerns not only for people grazing stock but also for pet owners. We're following up some positive leads to find the owners of these dogs, and they'll be dealt with accordingly."
In the meantime Mr Le Comte advised pet and stock owners in the Hone Heke/Cobham Rd area to be vigilant, and urged anyone whose pet had come home covered in blood to contact the police before the police found them.
A Far North District Council animal control officer said a pair of dogs at a Cobham Rd address which had sparked complaints a few weeks earlier had been relocated before yesterday's attack.
The Talbots have two surviving sheep, found cowering in a corner of the paddock, and two cows.
A few weeks earlier another Hone Heke Rd resident reported losing five chickens in an overnight dog attack. That incident sparked a neighbourhood leaflet drop urging dog owners to keep their pets secured at night.
Mrs Talbot said the attack was not only distressing, it was also expensive. The family would have to buy new stock and had to hire a digger to bury the mauled sheep in the stony earth.
Call Kerikeri police on 09 407 9211 or the Far North District Council on 0800 920 029 if you know who the dogs belong to.