April 05, 2010

Is Your Family Dog Leading A Double Life?

Trouble - Dog attack survivor and healthy goat grandma today.

If you are allowing him to run free, especially in rural areas where livestock are nearby he very well may be.

What you are about to read is blunt, and will no doubt anger some dog owners but if a little bluntness and honest reality saves the life of even one dog or farm animal it is worth the few hateful comments I will undoubtedly get from city folk and dog owners. This is a subject that is near to my heart since I lost a much loved goat, one of my first Boer goats in fact and had another one mauled by our neighbor's dogs on our property many years ago before we got our livestock guardian dogs. The mauled goat did survive and is now a healthy and happy 8 year old Goat grandma on our farm. You can read Trouble's story HERE.

Most dog owners don't want to admit that their lovable family pet is capable of the death and destruction of their neighbor's pets, poultry and livestock but too many farmers have proof and facts to the contrary. Farmers, livestock owners and people that love and care about their pet goats, sheep and horses across this country have proof time and time again. Every time they see and bury the mauled and mangled bodies of their beloved animals, or they pay the vet bills and doctor the often horrific wounds your dog caused to their animals needlessly because you chose to let your dog run loose off leash and off your own property.

As more "town folk" move out to the country and see all this space and lack of a dog catcher as a reason to let their dogs run free, those owners need to be educated on the reality that responsible dog ownership does not end at the city limits. Please know that many livestock aggressive dogs are not people aggressive at all, many are friendly family pets.

Dog owners need to be aware that farm animals, such as goats and horses feel pain and fear. Goats can actually be very dog like in personality. They like to have their ears scratched, they get attached to their owners and herd mates.

Can you put yourself in their hooves for just a minute? I can not imagine a more horrific way to die than to be chased and terrorized. To try and run for my life in panic with no where to go, no real chance as my peaceful pasture home becomes a prison with killers on the loose. Killers that are not hungry but are doing it all for the fun of it. To watch my children and family be killed too as my own flesh is ripped and bitten over and over until I can run no more, finally falling to the ground where the relentless killers will continue their agonizing attack on me while I am still alive, bleeding and crying in pain until I finally die in a state of complete fear and terror. Horrific isn't it? That is the horror livestock owners feel when they see their animals strewn dead around the barnyard from a dog attack.

That is what our goats and horses and our other farm animal victims feel when your "pet" dogs come onto our property, into our pastures and barns and kill them. I did not write that to be shocking, but to try and get through to those people that think "oh well it is just a goat, or just a rabbit" that these farm animals are living creatures, with unique personalities and just as capable of affection for their owners as your dog is. They love their babies and herd mates and have just as much right to life as your dog does.

It happens all the time, if you think the numerous links I provided below to videos and news stories about this was over-kill, then consider this is just what I found with a simple ten minute Google search. There are hundreds if not thousands of similar stories and cases of pet dogs injuring and killing livestock. It is not a rare, freak occurrence and it is not a problem caused by just Pit Bulls or Rottweilers.

All dogs, of all sizes and breeds, both male and female, intact and fixed could potentially be a problem for your neighbors and a killer of their chickens, pets or livestock. The only way to assure that they are not is to keep your dog confined to your own property or on a leash. This is much more of a people problem than a dog problem, it is a matter of responsible pet ownership and basic consideration for your neighbors. Too many farm animals have lost their lives because of thoughtless, irresponsible people whose pet dogs lead a double life of loving family pet at home and destructive killer in their neighbors barnyards and chicken coops.

More Information:

Dog Law - Injury to Livestock - Quoted from link: "The two cardinal rules, which apply almost everywhere, are: 1. A livestock owner is free to kill a dog that is killing, wounding, chasing, worrying, harassing, or attacking livestock. 2. A dog's owner or keeper is financially liable for any livestock damage the dog causes."

How to Differentiate Between Coyote and Dog Kills

Dog Laws & Liability When Dogs Worry Livestock (A Must Read For Dog Owners)

DNA Pet Detectives - Now DNA can be used to find canine killers of expensive pets or livestock.

UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory

In The News - Family Dog Fido Attacks On Livestock Is A Common Occurrence.
Family Dogs Terrorize Sheep

15 Sheep Injured in Dog Attack

Pet Dogs Attack Donkeys

Small Dogs Endanger Livestock Too

Woman Ordered To Pay $9,771 After Her Two Dogs Attack Sheep & Goats

Videos (mostly news reports) about domestic dog attacks on horses and livestock.






A Message To Dog Owners

* ***I did not write the letter below. I came across this letter while researching dog vs livestock laws in my state. It is reprinted with the author's permission and while she asked to remain anonymous (She cited not wanting to deal with the angry reaction of dog owners as a reason) she had the same feelings I do that it is important to educate dog owners on this issue. As someone who has lost a goat and had another mauled by our neighbors dogs on our property (before we got our livestock guardian dogs) this is an issue I feel strongly enough about to display this well written and to the point article on my website/ blog. It IS blunt but frankly I think some dog owners need to hear it that way. ***

The most common predatory killers of livestock are domestic dogs. Even your sweet family pet can wander off to play, start chasing, then biting, and then instincts kick in that you might be too naive to believe your dog has. Unfortunately, your naivety and denial won't save the livestock your dog harms. Livestock owners know this and many will shoot your dog and you'll never even know what happened to it. But don't blame the owners of the livestock, they are merely protecting their beloved animals from a killer you chose to leave on the loose.

Not only do dogs tear up livestock and cause incredible pain and suffering to them, they can "stress" certain types to death just by "running" them. They can chase them into, through, or over fences where they can become tangled in fencing, or hit by cars. "Running" stock can also cause abortion or early births which result in heartache over the loss of babies and dams due to complications. Some livestock is prone to heat stress, and "running" them can cause death from that too. You can be held financially responsible for the monetary losses your dog inflicts.

The reason people buy property and fence it to to keep their livestock in. It is your responsibility to keep your dogs out of their pastures, off their property, and on your own property. Many areas have leash laws and you can be fined. Many insurance companies will cancel your homeowners insurance if complaints are made about your dogs. (And it's a piece of cake for livestock owners to find out who your insurer is.) Once your home owner's insurance is cancelled for that reason, you'll find great difficulty finding another that will be willing to insure you. If you have a mortgage on your home you have to be insured, so you'll have further problems to deal with. And if your dogs are caught doing damage, you can (and probably will) be sued for damages.

If you love your dogs you need to be a responsible dog owner. No one cares what your opinion is about what your dogs will or won't do. Too many livestock owners have FACTS about what dogs will do and are tired of the horror and heartache of dog massacres inflicted on their beloved livestock.

You need to be aware that they care about their livestock as much as you care about your dog. In fact they obviously care more, since they aren't leaving their stock running loose to be hit by cars or harm others property, as you are doing if your dog is running off your property.

Why any dog owner feels they have the right to put others livestock at risk is beyond me. It is the height of disrespectful animal ownership, and shows a total disregard for the rights of others, or any concern at all for their livestock. If you act that way, why be surprised if your dog gets shot? The sad part is both the dog and the livestock would be safe and happy if dog owner would act responsibly.

So if you are a dog owner, the problem or solution starts with you. Contain your dogs on your own property, unless you have them on a leash or in public areas created specifically for letting dogs run. ESPECIALLY if you live anywhere near other people with livestock. It's 2002, not 1500, and other people have rights too. If you can't be compassionate or mature enough to care about the welfare of others animals, at least show enough care for your own dog not to let it be at risk.

If a neighbor has ever had to speak to you about your dogs being on their farm, or running their stock, you are causing major upset in their lives and creating trouble. You may be mindlessly unconcerned, but they obviously aren't. You are risking their stock that they care about and have money invested in. That is not within your rights to do - neither legally nor morally. Apologize immediately, and make *certain* your dog does not leave your property "unrestrained" again.



Anonymous said...

I love all animals, including dogs, and I am not the least offended by this. I think any responsible dog owner shouldn't be either if they truly care about animals in general. I think it's great you brought this to everyone's attention!

I have an annoying neighbor who refuses to use a leash on her dog or use something to contain her dog to her yard. I have had to tell her time and time again to keep her dog out of our yard and I always wonder, doesn't she care about her own dog? It has to cross a street to get to our yard. We have new houses being constructed and both my husband and I have both witnessed her dog almost get hit by one of the many construction trucks driving through our neighborhood. I finally told the woman to respect our wishes and keep the dog out of our yard, that seemed to get her attention. I cannot imagine if my animals were being attacked by this dog...I would go ballistic.

Some people just do not value animal life at all....so maybe these people would value the idea that they need to keep themselves and their dogs off others' property. Dogs only behave the way they're allowed to behave, so this is definitely the responsibility of the owners.

Liz said...

We had pygmy goats while I was growing up, whom we loved dearly. A good friend of our family lived about 5 houses down the street (a mile away or so) and let his dogs run free periodically. My little pygmy Moonie was mauled by his dogs, to the point where my dad had to put her down. It was horribly traumatic for all of us, including our friend, who ended up shooting his dogs, even though we told him not to, but to keep them on his own property. They were both very sweet dogs, but when they got together (he kept them in separate runs) they were terrors! Anyway, thank you for posting the dog laws!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this Kathie. I just wrote about dogs harming livestock, that does not even get into other people's dogs roaming at large that get into their neighbors trash, poop in their yard, and cause other kinds of damage. You are right it is the responsibility of the owners.

Liz, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your pygmy goat. Such a traumatic thing for a child to go through. Many of these dog owners don't realize the "livestock" their dogs kill are often a child's pet or 4h projects. I visited your blog and tried to leave a comment but I guess your layout is cutting off below the word verification, not allowing me to fill out the word verification and leave a comment. Hope you see this so you will know. You have a nice blog by the way!

Pricilla said...

Our neighbor has a golden retriever that he just lets run. It is in our yard constantly upsetting my goats. (His horses are over here all the time eating our hay so it gives you an idea of how he cares for his animals.) I have told him repeatedly that the dog is stressing the goats. That the goats don't like dogs and that they are scared by the dog and to keep the dog off my property.

He has told me that it is MY problem and if I want the dog off I need to do it myself. My husband once killed a mouse with a .22

I think I will share that story next.....

And I grew up with dogs. My mother bred dachshunds and Great Danes. Not together, obviously...

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i think that anyone that owns a dog and lets it run free should be shot. if i had a dog bothering my animals i would capture it and turn it into a shelter. on our fall trip to rockport last year a free running dog came after teddy. i don't want to tell you about how a chow handles this. the dog was just goofy but you could see teddy's intentions in her eyes. this happened while my husband and daughter were walking teddy on a leash. i happened to be driving in their direction when i observed what was happening. i jumped from the car and went into action. first i tried to chase the dog away but this just became more of a game. teddy was becoming even more aggressive thinking that the dog might hurt me. i grabbed a towel out of the back of the car and threw it over the dogs head and then head locked the dog until teddy was safely in the car. that dog was never going to hurt teddy but teddy was seconds from ripping the dog apart, even on a leash. one trick to break animals apart when they are fighting is to grab them by the back legs and pull them apart and hang on to the legs until the situation is remedied. however, you obviously have to be there when it is happening. i am rambling but irresponsible owners really irk me!

Jennifer said...

Pricilla - People like that are so frustrating to deal with. I wish I could understand how they think it is YOUR responsibility to keep their dog off your property. You are taking responsibility for your own animals by keeping them fenced in and on your own property. How would he feel if you let your goats run loose and they went over and completely ate his summer garden to which your only response would be it was HIS responsibility to keep them out of his garden? He sure wouldn't like it if the shoe was on the other foot.

Jennifer said...

Jaz - Thanks for your comments and story! When I was searching for dogs attacking livestock news videos on YouTube I also came across so many really sad videos about larger dogs that are allowed to run loose and end up killing their neighbors smaller dogs and cats. So sad, and so needless! It is sad for the smaller dog and cat victims and just as sad for the larger dogs that end up euthanized or shot because of their own irresponsible owners. The animals both the one attacked and the attacking dog are the real victims of the loose dog owners stupidity. It is not that hard to keep a dog confined. Your quick thinking stopped a dog fight from happening, glad neither Teddy or the goofy loose dog got hurt!

Melodie said...

I wish this could be printed on the front page of every news paper!

I am always grateful for the help you gave me when we were having neighbor dog trouble. It helped me to know how to handle the situation.

farmlady said...

This post needed to be written. I HAVE DOGS. I love my dogs but I would NEVER let them run loose. Freedom for dogs around here means death for them at the hands of my farming neighbors.
We farm owners who have animals that are at the mercy of predators will always shoot first and ask questions last. If a mountain lion or a coyote is attacking my chickens or goats, my husband will shoot and kill the attacker. It is the same with dogs that arrive and try to kill our animals. Dogs will join packs of dogs and go on hunts together.
It's just like a wolf pack and it's just as dangerous.
Folks think that their dogs are innocent of this behavior but it's survival of the fittest out there and my gun will trump a dog attacking my animals every time.

Twisted Fencepost said...

Very well written, Jennifer!
I couldn't agree with you more.
Unfortunately, for those of us living in the country, it is something we must deal with.
One of my own dogs almost killed one of my horses by running it. I found a good home for it with a responsible family and all were happy.

Teresa said...

I try hard to keep my animals where they belong, but I admit we have an occasional escape. I do what I can to immediately fix the problem. With the understanding that accidents do happen, when my now neighbors hired a contractor to build their house directly across the road from me, the contractor thought it was okay to bring his dog with him. After his dog killed one chicken and injured a goose that became so depressed she died shortly afterwards, I told him to keep the dog off my property. That led to him opening gates, entering my house and all kinds of other illegal and immature behavior. The new neighbors thought I was mean when I threatened to shoot the dog (which I could never do) when I tried talking to them about it. Great way to start with your new neighbor, huh?

Chris said...

Shoot, shovel and shut up -- that's what my friend says. I'd add, shrug, if anyone brings up the issue to you. We had dogs kill some chickens. I caught them the first time. They were back again 2 weeks later. The third time I told the county officer I would shoot the dogs. The officer told the neighbors, and we haven't seen them since. The sheriff can be helpful.

Bossy Betty said...

Important topic. Growing up on a farm I witnessed some roving bands of dogs--very dangerous. Everyone needs to take responsibility for his/her pet.

GardenofDaisies said...

OH! Poor Trouble!! I'm glad she survived!
You know, I have never been a gun owner, but I say shoot any dog that comes on your property!

Years ago a dog (poodle) from down the block came running into our yard and bit my little girl. She was only 7 or 8 at the time. I was furious!!!

Moonshadow said...

It's a matter of responsible dog ownership. Back in the mid 70's I worked at a TV station in Wichita and my supervisor was doing a documentary on dog packs that were terrorizing the town. These were stray domestic dogs that gathered together in a pack and were attacking other animals and children. Being domestic they do not have the fear of people that wild animals have making them more dangerous than wild animals. One of the sadest days for me was when a dog pack got into Cowtown and killed the donkey, Tag-a-long, that had lived in Cowtown for many years. The donkey had been there when I was a Girls Scout Guide at Cowtown for two summers. Later in life I had the occasion to read the riot act to a neighbor that I found out was dumping unwanted dogs in the country. I offered to shoot any unwanted dogs for her, rather than have her turn them loose for some farmer to have to kill. :(

Rose's Goats said...

Amen sister!!!

goatgirl said...

I was also told by a neighbor that it was my responsibility to keep her dogs off my farm...what the heck! And no it isn't just big dogs, their Chihuahua terrorizes my animals and although hasn't killed anything, plucks and injures my chickens.
I think someone said that if your neighbor's dog is chasing your livestock, shoot it, bury it and then help the neighbor look for his dog.

Nancy M. said...

I hate it when people allow their dogs to run loose! Last year we had a whole bunch of chickens killed by a couple dogs running around!

Claire said...

I'm with you 100% on this topic. Three of our sheep came from a flock that had been decimated by a pack of 3 Saint Bernard dogs. My dog, a rescued greyhound, is an indoor dog and is let out into his own fenced area. He happens to be petrified if there are chickens on the other side of his fence and whines to come in. He's also scared of box elder bugs though, so he's a bit of a wimp. Even though we live in a rural area, I see no reason that my dog should roam free, for his safety as well as for the safety of other animals. All animal owners need to be responsible for all their animals - livestock and pets. Kudos to you for raising the issue.

~Tonia said...

I agree 100% with you! I have had to deal with peoples dogs that roamed the country side as well as bulls and cows.
Just because you live in the country doesnt mean your animals can roam free. I had neighbor dogs that woudl come and eat my dogs food. Chase my chickens and cause chaos... Then the same neighbor had the gall to accuse my dog of killing her chickens. But Mine had been tied up and not loose for several days. Come to find out it was her grandson's dog on the other side of me.
One of the places we lived had packs of dogs that had been dumped. It took about 2 months but we were able to get all of them. And no we weren't able to take them to a shelter as they had went wild and were running in packs.
People don't realize how much damage a dog can do. If its causing trouble I usually apply the 3 S's shoot,shovel and shutup..

Anonymous said...

Living in a very rural area, with not many neighbors or their dogs we still have a serious dog problem. Without proper animal shelters in our area people just dump their unwanted pets out. The dogs will band together to form very dangerous dog packs. One day I had a goat missing and found him down by the creek. I didn't know a pack of 6 or more dogs were also down there. One came running from the dead goat (they had killed) toward me. Luckily BoDog was with me and took over. He knocked down that dog, then one more that came running out. The others ran under the fence they had dug under to get in.
So it isn't only the animals in danger it is the people also.

Great post.

Jason said...

we had two more dog attacks this week. think we interrupted the first one, but they still killed one of our kids. the second attack we caught them in the act and lets just say one of them won't bother anyone's animals anymore, but the goat they attacked died today from shock i think. not sure... i did see the other dog that got away and am going to talk to the neighbor asap.

people just dont get it...

Ken and Mary of Fancy Fibers Farm said...

Amen. We've been on our farm with quite a growing menagerie now for almost a year and are thankful for sturdy fences and big white guard dogs, who let coyotes and stray dogs alke know to stay away. One of my biggest nightmares is something happening to our farm residents. Ken and Mary of Fancy Fibers Farm

Anonymous said...

It is the owner's responsibility to know where his animals are and what they are up to. If a human is not willing to take that responsibility, either they do not deserve to have a dog, or they must be willing to live up to the consequences of their behavior. However, a fine and a calling out, does not make up the loss of livestock, be it chickens or goats or anything else.
I get angry about the people who walk out here just so their dogs can poop in my field. If their dog harmed one of my animals, it may not be the dog I shoot.
Unfortunately, once a dog has the experience of chasing or killing, the behavior is more likely to be repeated.

ChrisP said...

Total stupid act on my part just cost us 6 goats. And I do not know which of MY OWN DOGS to get rid of!
We just got a 12 goats, to range the 10 acres of weeds. Pyraneese was in heaven to have a job, young border a bit skittish, lab tried to be side kick for Pyraneese, and shepherd mix seemed to be the same.
We left for quick trip, less than 24 hours, came back and 6 of the goats, young ones and females are all dead in various places. The meanest female alive her baby and the males.
The dead goats were not mauled, all looked like they were strangled, and a couple did have one or two punctures in their necks.
Now what to do? We will sell all the goats we have now ASAP, and if we figure out which dog did this remove it. But I also wonder if one started it and then they 'packed out?
Totally blown away by this. I thought I knew the dogs.. These are my own, and 2 are bred for this.
Keep your dogs in you sights always!

Jennifer said...

I am so sorry to hear about the goats that you lost ChrisP. You have some very good advice because sometimes it is not just neighbors dogs that need to be watched around goats and it is true that a dog in a pack of other dogs might do things he would not normally do on his own.

allen13241 said...

I agree. More people in the country should use dog containment systems, such as wireless fences. I just started using Havahart's Radial-Shape Wireless Dog Fence. It was really easy set up and works on two dogs.