A DEVASTATED pet owner has spoken of her distress after her beloved springer spaniels were shot dead.
Two-year-olds Meg and Molly disappeared on Friday night as they were let out for their daily run.
On Monday, their desperate owner Linda Kerry received an anonymous phone call to say they had been seen alive. On Tuesday she was told they had been shot dead.
Their deaths bring the number of pets shot in the last few years to eight within a five-mile radius.
Police are investigating, but say it is too early to connect the shooting to others in the area.
“Whoever has done this needs stopping,” said Mrs Kerry, of Brimham. “It’s devastating.”
Since January 2007, there have been reports of a Shetland pony shot in Smelthouses, three cats at Fellbeck, another from Darley and one more from Summerbridge.
“Everybody is frightened about letting their pets out,” said Mrs Kerry.
“But I will not let this lie. They think it’s some kind of joke to shoot pets but it’s not.
“They were two chunky, lovely little things. What has been done is sadistic.”
Mrs Kerry, 49, last saw Molly and Meg when her husband Tony, 50, let them out for their run at 5.30pm on Friday evening.
When they hadn’t returned by 7pm, they knew something was wrong.
“They just seemed to vanish,” said Mrs Kerry. “It’s a mystery. Nobody heard anything.”
While it is not illegal to shoot a dog which is bothering sheep, Mrs Kerry says that both the spaniels had been raised on a farm since they were six weeks old.
“These are farm dogs,” she said. “They were no threat.
“We are heartbroken. They wouldn’t have hurt a fly.”
Molly and Meg are not the first animals to have been shot in the area.
In October 2007, eight-year-old cat Josh was shot in Summerbridge.
In January 2008, eight-month-old cat Alfie was shot in Darley.
In October 2009, a Shetland Pony was found shot in a field at Smelthouses.
Last May, three cats disappeared at Fellbeck; one was found with a bullet in its shoulder. In September 2009, a buzzard was shot near Pateley Bridge.
A police spokesman has said it is too early to comment on the incident.
He confirmed they were investigating reports but said: “It is too early to say if these shootings are connected to any other incidents in the area.”