Apr 182013

By Suzanne Kelly.

Some weeks ago, a lamb was brought to Willows Animal Sanctuary near New Pitsligo. It had been found nearly dead, half drowned in a stream.

Tender loving care by the person who found it nursed it back to a state of health, and it continued to recover at Willows, all the while being hand fed and tended to frequently.

It recovered, and is now an adored pet for the many people, especially children who benefit from the Animal Assisted Therapy which Willows offers.

This should be the end of the story; the animal was saved, helped to recover, and has a home for its life being adored at a sanctuary.

However, if one local farmer has his way, the lamb will be seized, and Willows charged with theft and hauled to court.

Outraged animal campaigners and users of Willows’ facilities are appealing to this farmer.  After all, there is absolutely no proof where the animal came from.  It was found in a stream far from any farms.  It had no marking/brand/dye.

Court action will mean cost for Willows.  Appealing to this farmer’s better nature seems like a slim hope however.

As the Aberdeen Voice  Editor Fred Wilkinson reacted:-

“I think the idea of a sanctuary for rescued animals handing over a rescued animal to someone who has no more interest in the creature than how much fat and growth hormones he can stuff into it and sell it purely for it’s weight as a corpse is quite disturbing. “

It is hard to believe that anyone would claim a lost animal is theirs without any evidence, threaten and intimidate a charity with court and police, all to remove a rescued animal from emotionally vulnerable people who have bonded with it – but that is what is happening.

Footage of the lamb playing with a rescued dog, and other information can be found on Willows page on Facebook where you will also find related information.

The Facebook page also has a photo of the sheep; anyone who is opposed to the removal of this animal is urged to share the photo on Facebook to increase awareness; the campaign is called ‘Spam This Lamb’.

Aberdeen Voice is in touch with a variety of animal welfare organisations on this matter as well as the Blackface Sheep Association; we hope to report a happy outcome in the days to follow.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

  20 Responses to “SOS: Save Our Sheep! Farmer’s Threat To Rescued Lamb”

  1. This farmer should be charged with waisting police and court time, how can he not even feel ashamed of his behaviour.

  2. Growth hormones, lol!

    Sheep are for eating, the lamb wouldn’t exist were it not for the farmer breeding them for the plate. Luckily for this sheep he’s a breeding ram so he’ll live a happy life doing what he does best, that isn’t sitting beside a donkey whilst children stroke him.

    Well done to the sanctuary for rescuing ill treated animals but it can’t just keep well treated animals because someone found it.

    • The farmer needs to provide proof of ownership before he can lay claim to the sheep

  3. Mr Smith might have a point if the animal had been well treated, animal sanctuaries get loads of traffic from animals their owners would describe describe as well treated, until found near death by a member of the public.

  4. So many false points in this report it’s unbelievable. According to the STV news a spokesperson for Willows said the lamb has only been there a week, the farmer has offered DNA proof of ownership, he also offered money. On radio Scotland Aberdeen news at lunchtime today he also offered a replacement lamb. He also stated that Willow put the matter in the hands of their solicitor rather than talk with him.

  5. I’ve always enjoyed Aberdeen Voice’s investigative and accurate journalism, you’ve covered some very interesting topics and almost always done it in a fair and level headed way but I’m saddened to read this report above.
    It’s so full of inaccuracies and sensationalism you’d think it was written by someone from Aberdeen Journals!
    I understand that some of you don’t agree with modern farming methods and may find it hard to believe that farmers and meat eaters can be caring and compassionate about animals but since you are the voice of Aberdeen I think your reporting should be a bit more accurate. A few of the points I disagree with in the above report are:
    1. The farmer never threatened or intimidated the charity at all, he asked for his lamb to be returned and even offered a donation and another lamb in it’s place. According to Willow’s facebook page yesterday (It’s been deleted today) they were happy for the matter to be handled by solicitors and they actively encouraged their supporters to harass the farmer, they also deleted the farmer’s posts on their page where he offered a replacement and politely defended his actions.
    2. Fred – Sheep don’t get stuffed with growth hormones in the UK, or fat.
    This is from the governments sheep and goat health regulations.
    “Due to concerns about the potential risk to humans, the use of hormonal growth promoters for livestock is banned in the UK. Antibiotic growth-promoting feed additives have also been phased out – because of concerns about the potential spread of antibiotic resistance.”

    Come on Aberdeen Voice please don’t loose your journalistic integrity by knowingly publishing inaccurate material, it’s insulting to your readers.

    • Hi Martyn, you bring up a valid and interesting point re. the quote attributed to myself in the above article, which I feel deserves to be addressed.

      First of All, I should point out that I know you personally, and therefore do not doubt your background/involvement in farming. I also bow to your superior knowledge re. sheep rearing and the relevant laws. Secondly thanks for the kind words about AV which frame your complaint about the above article.. much appreciated.

      I should point out that the quote, as used, is accurate, and as correctly stated, WAS my reaction to the issue, presented to the letter. I should also point out that what I offered at the time was a general expression of a scenario involving ANY animal rescue centre, ANY farmer, and/or ANY rescued animal ANYWHERE on the planet.

      This in mind, Whilst there are no grounds to retract/remove the quote, nor object to it’s inclusion, I can recognise that in the context of the article, it could be implied that I am referring to specifics. However, it is fact that the idea I describe hypothetically, I find disgusting, and I stand by the expression.

      I am glad, and even grateful to be a little wiser re. sheep rearing, and delighted to know that sheep in the UK are not subjected to growth hormones.

      This being the case, what may be implied from the quote attributed to me would appear to be erroneous…. and if I was presented as a professor of Agriculture, or a qualified Veterinarian or similar, I would be embarrassed and want it removed. However, as I am none of those and not placated to be, then I will lose no sleep over it, and if ridiculed on account of it, I’ll just have to take it on the chin.

      At Aberdeen Voice, we strive not to interfere with writer’s material, editing as lightly as possible, and only with good cause. In this instance, I see a case, but not cause.

      I will of course alert the writer to this contribution for her consideration.

      • Nae worries Fred, cheers!
        I appreciate the fact that your readers get a decent right to reply.
        I wouldn’t like to see the article changed at all I just thought I’d point out that the use of growth hormones thankfully is not allowed in the UK, just in case anyone reading thought that it was common practice.
        Keep up the good work, you guys have covered a lot of important issues over the years and 99.9% I totally agree with.

  6. It’s obvious that the sanctuary is run by people from an urban area. Here in the north east, any country person finding a lamb would first go round the local farms so that it could be reunited with its mother, for a start, and to return it to the farmer who owned it. We have far too many of these ignorant people living in country areas.

    • Ewan-

      To paraphrase the words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Until you understand a person’s ignorance
      presume yourself ignorant of their understanding”

    • Dear Ewan, You seem to have missed most of the facts of the situation. The teenager who found it was far away from any sign of any other sheep or farm. She saved its life, and then brought it to a sanctuary. The sanctuary has been run for more than a decade by people who deal with wild, domestic and farm animals that have been abandonded, abused, or simply can’t be cared for by their owners. It is a bit odd that a ‘valuable’ lamb was allowed to get washed away down a river? Does that really sound like adequate animal husbandry to you? It sounds like you have a city folk/country folk chip on your shoulder more than anything else.

      • Well, Old Susannah……If I owned a farm, I would split it into 3-5 acre pieces and sell them so that people from the cities could build their dream house, with the long tree-lined drive, the fancy 5 bar gate with the goose head at one end, and give it a fancy name such as Cherry Tree Farm, and next to it, a sign saying PRIVATE.

        They would have plenty room to build the stable block, exercise their many dogs, and keep their pot-bellied pigs, donkeys and a goat or two.
        I would then stop having to work 365 days a year, up to 18 hours out of the 24 during the weeks of lambing, and I would retire somewhere nice and warm.

      • There’s more to it, Old Susannah.

        The meat that people buy in the supermarkets could then be brought in by plane from South America. After all, there’s millions and millions of acres of forest that could be cleared to provide all of the UK’s needs.

        Everybody would then be happy. The farmers would be able to live a normal life like other people, and the new occupants of the plots could all get together and raise funds for the animal sanctuaries and feel good about themselves. They also would not have to look at farm animals in the fields knowing that one day, bits of them would be on their dinner plates, and other bits would be around their feet.

  7. Well, this one is clearly dividing opinion. There have been developments – the farmer involved has posted on his Facebook page a comment referring to Willows as a ‘funny farm’ – it helps people with mental, physical and emotional problems from children to adults. Mocking those less fortunate than himself is not going down very well with anyone, whatever side people are on of the ownership issue – this was just nasty and unnecessary.

    These people have bonded with this lamb – which might sound unimportant to some of you – but it will be extremely traumatising for them to let this animal go – putting a different animal in is not the answer. There is as yet no proof of ownership, and certainly no proof of this being a valuable tup. If it were worth a great deal of money, many farmers would have kept a better eye on it. This also begs the question – was it looked after properly – it was found in distress, nearly dead. There are some people who think the law is absolute and the farmer still owns the sheep. This is not exactly ironclad. If someone loses an animal, domestic or farm, and ceases to look for them, the person who finds the animal might be entitled to lay claim to the animal – this is a matter for the courts. The farmer posted that he stopped looking and thought it was dead. It is far from clear that he called all the area animal rescue centres.

    Sometimes a look at a person’s character can give insight into how they operate. I would personally be a bit slow to take his word. This is a man who sued his injured, 77 year-old father for the farm and won; the court case papers make very interesting reading indeed. It would be nice if this wealthy landowning farmer could simply be happy this animal is alive and has been de facto adopted by vulnerable people who care for it. If he takes the charity to court, removes this animal and causes distress to the people on the animal assisted therapy, then I for one am going to let the meat dealers and retailers his insult to the people who rely on Willows and how he took them to court.

    I am not unable to see his piont of view either. He believes this animal is his property; he says it is valuable. But it was the farmer who as I understand it started in with the threats of police, legal action and so on. I know Willows; I know they are in a difficult position over this, and we shall see what happens whether it is decided in or out of court. I know what I’ve found out about our farmer. I’ve made my decision who I believe; we’ll see what happens in due course.

    • Old Susannah, Thanks for the reply however I think there are still a few issues that you are wrong about.
      I understand that you are a good friend and supporter of Willows and those who work there but I think this makes your reporting very biased an one sided in this case, I would do the same if my friends needed help too.
      I don’t personally know anyone who works at Willows, I think they do a great job both for the animals they rescue and the people who receive therapy.
      I don’t know the Farmer in question either but I have a interest in farming, I’ve lived on a farm for many years and my wife is a farmer.
      I agree that the farmer’s use of the term “Funny Farm” was definitely unnecessary and derogatory however I would say that he and his Wife got a huge amount of unnecessary and derogatory abuse from the supporters of Willows on facebook, including a very disturbing description of what one supporter would do if he met them, taking time to describe separately what he would do to each of them. This “mob bullying” behaviour was encouraged by Willows and I would also say by you too on the Aberdeen Voice facebook page “Please post messages of support on the Willows page if you can; and if you do see the farmer’s post, please feel free to give him a piece of your mind.”
      In a heated debate like this one I believe your action to be very irresponsible.
      I also think that accusations of animal neglect towards the farmer are wrong, Blackfaced sheep are a very hardy outdoor breed that thrive in difficult areas and do not do well indoors, they are impossible to watch 24/7. Lambing season is also a very busy time for a farmer. This should all be taken into account. It is quite understandable that the lamb was in distress and nearly dead, it was found in a river. I don’t think anyone who knows and understands sheep farming would blame the farmer for this.
      I also think that Willows have been very irresponsible in using the rescued lamb as part of their Therapy program knowing that it could be claimed at any time, allowing vulnerable people to become attached to the lamb then using this as the reason they should keep it. That is either poor management practices or a shocking manipulation of the very people they are supposed to be helping. I do hope it’s not the latter.

    • I wonder if this place is run by the same people who had the Donkey Sanctuary I visited in Devon. A sumptuous place with many broad acres. I understand that it started in a scruffy little smallholding. A sad looking donkey in an advert soon brought the dosh rolling in. I was there 35 years ago, and it had already been sold for over £1,000,000.

      After all, it is a licence to print money, isn’t it? All those little old ladies leaving them a fat legacy.

      All this anger-producing publicity is going to do them nothing but good, of course. They’ll milk it (no pun intended!) for all its worth.

  8. I hope the fifteen year old girl who bravely rescued this lamb is OK, she deserves a great amount of thanks for saving River. When I was fifteen (because it concerns an animal), I would have probably been quite bewildered and upset at all the arguments.

    • Sean,

      This lamb is not a pet, it’s a working animal, I’ve spent a lot of my life on farms, sheep thrive in the company of other sheep, it just isn’t natural for a tup to be kept away from other sheep, it will get depressed and go mad in the confines of this “sanctuary”.

  9. Thank god I’m not the only one who see’s the insanity of a rescue centre claiming ownership of everything that passes through its door, the very nature of these places should be to look after the animal till the owner can be reunited with the animal or to take care of it if no one wants it.

    To keep this fluffy little animal because it’s cute and people at the centre have grown attached to it is laughable.

    btw Well done on stopping the UTG project, I took my daughter down there on the the Sunday of the International market to eat some food we’d bought, Union Terrace was mobbed, we got harassed for money by two junkies when we passed an archway, not one other person was in the garden, my daughter got a real scare. This was a warm sunny afternoon, where were all you people? If it had been street level it would have been full.

    Shame on you people for not giving a shit about the place now its “been saved”. We won’t be back, it’s a disgrace for a city centre.

  10. Have Willow thought this through? In six months to a year this cute lamb is going to be a fully grown ram with horns, it will be stamping feet and butting everything in sight, is this suitable animal to be used as a therapy pet? These children are going to be a lot more attached after a year than they are now, how will they feel when a fully grown sheep charges at them head first?

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>