A SHEEP was saved from the chop just minutes before she was due to be slaughtered - after unexpectedly giving birth to a lamb in an abattoir.
Sandy the Sheep and Larry the Lamb are the luckiest animals alive after being saved from sudden death by kind-hearted slaughterhouse staff in Kirklees.
Sandy had been taken to Spenborough Abattoir in Liversedge and was being prepared to be killed by workers when she suddenly went into labour.
Shocked staff watched as Sandy gave birth to a perfectly healthy lamb which they immediately named Larry - even though `he' later turned out to be a `she'.
But then they were left with a problem.
Strict Government health regulations state that no animal can leave an abattoir alive. So the workers were faced with the grim prospect of having to slaughter both mother and newborn daughter.
But when it came down to carrying out the execution none of the 10 slaughtermen had the heart to do the deed.
Abattoir director David Gawthorpe decided to fight the regulations and contacted a barrister after feeling that Larry and his mother deserved a fresh start.
The on-site vet and officials from the Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said both animals should be slaughtered and must not be moved.
But they finally relented and gave the go-ahead to re-house the pair at a nearby farm.
David, 52, said: "Regulations say that once animals come in here they should not leave alive.
"But that just didn't seem right. We kill animals every day, but putting down a mother sheep and her newborn lamb is completely different."
David said the ewe was brought to the abattoir and put in a holding shed ready for slaughter when she went into labour.
None of the staff had any idea she was pregnant.
David contacted Stephen Lomax, a barrister who works for the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers.
After two days negotiations a Defra granted a special licence and both animals were saved.
A Defra spokeswoman said: "Defra has, in this case, granted an exceptional licence to move the ewe and its offspring from the abattoir to a local farm."