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.
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.