Durian the cat is dead. He was killed in his sleep the other night by a wild dog that crawled under the car where the cat was sleeping. The dog went for the cat’s throat, slashing its jugular, and the cat didn’t have a chance. It was dragged by the dog to the other side of the carport and left to die.
Durian was one of the many cats that lived at Farmer Margie’s farm. She and her husband Nick have taken to sleeping lightly, with one ear open for any sign of approaching wild dogs. Even in his sleep, Nick heard barking and went out into the dark night at 1:30 am to drive them away.
Outside, he heard a cat scream, searched, and found the lifeless body of Durian. It was a thrill kill. Those wild dogs had blood lust and killed just for the sake of killing. They might have come to kill chickens, and found the cat instead. They ran away when Nick came on the scene.
Those wild dogs were once somebody’s pets. Small, cute, pampered. Or maybe yappy, nippy and unmanageable. In any case, their owners decided they had enough. Why dump dogs out in the countryside instead of take them to the shelter where they can be adopted? Some people foolishly think that domesticated animals can “fend for themselves” if left to run loose.
And they are partly right. Wild dogs do learn to fend for themselves. Their instincts kick in and they kill. Rats, possums, chickens –and cats. Sometimes to survive, and sometimes just for the thrill — the sheer wild crazy excitement of tearing a victim animal apart.
The killings at Bee Heaven Farm started a few years ago, and increased in the past several months. In an earlier attack back in October, wild dogs tried to get at chickens that live inside a mobile coop called a chicken tractor, but the dogs didn’t succeed. Farmer Margie lost dozens of chickens in similar previous incidents this year and last, and as a result egg production is way down. Animal deaths on the farm are not only heartbreaking but also have an economic impact.
But dog dumpers don’t think about the effect their heartless act of shoving an animal out of a car will have on others. Margie is not the only one to suffer losses this year. Her farm manager Sadie wept when wild dogs killed her pregnant pig, right in broad daylight. She tried to run them off but it was too late. In fall, Hani Khouri the cheesemaker had dogs attack several pregnant goats. The does survived the attacks, but later gave birth to stillborn kids. Hani was upset and heartbroken for days. I’m sure there are plenty other attacks that happened in Redland this year that I haven’t heard about.
It’s only a matter of time before a dog will lose its fear and attack a human. Farmer Tim Rowan had dogs menace him on his farm, more than once. Now he carries a gun whenever he steps out of his house to work in his field. Even I had a run in with two large dogs that wandered onto Bee Heaven Farm at dusk a couple years ago. I heard a deep throaty growl, turned and saw the dogs. I yelled and managed to run them off, but my heart was racing with fear, and I had dreams about the encounter for nights afterwards.
Next time a wild dog attacks — and there will be a next time and a next time — I hope and pray the victims are not animals I know. Durian was a sweet, much-loved pet, and was my animal friend, too. My heart grieves for his senseless death.