Rescued lamb at 'the centre of legal dispute'A lamb rescued from an Aberdeenshire river earlier this month is now at the centre of a legal dispute.
The lamb, called River, was retrieved by a schoolgirl and handed into the Willows Animal Sanctuary near New Pitsligo, and has been looked after by the sanctuary since, BBC News reports.
However, a local farmer has claimed ownership of the "pedigree" lamb and has asked for its return.
Kate Robinson, who works at Willows, explained that staff and visitors have become attached to the lamb. Vulnerable people who attend the animal-assisted therapy programme at the centre are said to be "deeply distressed" by the potential loss of River.
Robinson told the BBC Scotland news website: "We are appealing to the farmer's better nature. Everyone here is so attached to River now.
"A schoolgirl pulled the lamb from the river and looked after it as it was so weak. We were then contacted and agreed to take him in good faith."
The sanctuary have sought advice from their solicitors, describing the dispute as a "legal process" now.
John McIrvine, the farmer claiming ownership of the lamb, explained that he has offered to pay for the return of River and suggested he donate an alternative lamb.
He said: "He's an incredible tup lamb and he's got so much breeding potential for me as a ram that his value could be quite high.
"If he was only worth £50 I would donate him to Willows Animal Sanctuary, but in this particular lamb there's something special.
"I've offered to give them another lamb or pay for him to get him back but no, they will not play ball.
"They're keeping the lamb and that's it - they've put it in the hands of their solicitors."
McIrvine added that the lamb's mother has been left distressed at losing one of her young.