An animal cruelty investigation has been launched after a pet sheep was shot through the head with a rifle.

The RSPCA said the sheep was “effectively executed” and it was now looking into what it described as a string of separate incidents targeting a single farm’s animals.

Inspectors are making a public appeal for information after a family’s much-loved pet sheep, Shaun, was found with a fatal bullet wound on Thursday, July 19.

One of the family’s horses had previously been found slashed and whipped more than 40 times by a mystery assailant, the RSPCA said.

Another farmer has also moved his flock from a neighbouring field after two of the sheep had their ears cut off while grazing.

RSPCA inspector Natalie Perehovsky said: “The sheep’s owners went to tend to their flock early Thursday morning and found one of the rams dead in the field.

“He had seemingly been shot in the head.

“It’s not the first time their animals have been attacked and they’re now, understandably, very worried that they’re being targeted deliberately.”