KILLER dogs left a field strewn with 11 dead and dying pregnant sheep after running amok.

The two long-haired alsatians killed three ewes, scared another three into a river where they drowned and five more were so savagely mutilated they had to be shot where they lay.

The horrific attack took place in fields between Bradford Road, Riddlesden, and the River Aire, opposite the junction with Swine Lane.

Young farmer Harley Baxter has reared sheep on the 10 acre site since he was 13 and had lovingly built up the flock of Texels, Suffolks and Teaswaters.

And some of the killed animals had won prizes as shearlings at Skipton Show last year.

"It's just heartbreaking, we think the dogs escaped from a garden and once they got in and started killing they didn't stop," said Mr Baxter 22.

When he arrived at the scene just before 9.30am on Saturday, the two dogs were standing over the carcass of one of their victims.

"The dogs were drenched in blood, but not aggressive to humans at all.

"Maybe I should have finished them off , but we just grabbed them by the collars and waited for the police who arrived really quickly and were brilliant and took them away," Mr Baxter said.

Slaughtermen arrived and had to put down five sheep, which had suffered terrible facial injuries.

And to send a message of just what damage dogs can do, Mr Baxter placed seven of the dead animals close to the roadside wall, together with a signboard that reads: "This is why dogs should be kept on leads."

"We've had lots of support from local farmers, Aireworth Vets, and people who live nearby, but it's hard to say what the cost will be," Mr Baxter said.

"All of my 55 ewes had been scanned and were carrying twins or triplets.

"Apart from the dead ones, it won't be until lambing starts in five weeks that I find out if the shock has killed unborn lambs or if they'll come out twisted.

"I'd just say to anyone who leaves dogs out in a garden, make sure it's secure, because if they get out, this is what they can do," Mr Baxter said.

Wellwishers came over to Mr Baxter as he stood next to the field, including neighbour Annette Dent who saw the attack from her window.

"It was just awful to see them standing over one of those poor sheep," she said.

A West Yorkshire police spokesman said an investigation was underway.

the spokesman said: "Police have seized two dogs in connection with this ongoing inquiry and a 29-year-old man has been spoken to.

"Dog walkers are urged to keep their pets on a lead when walking through farmers' fields where livestock is present especially at this time of year.

"Young livestock in particular can potentially be vulnerable to a loose dog and under Section 9 of the Animals Act, 1971, their owner, the landowner or anyone acting on their behalf, is entitled to shoot any dog on their land if they believe it is the only reasonable way of stopping it worrying livestock."