Posts Tagged ‘wild dogs’

Durian the cat liked to follow me around on the farm and tell me things. I will miss our conversations.

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.

Durian relaxing at home with his loved ones. Photo by Rachel Pikarsky.

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.

Read Full Post »

Feral dogs worked open this latch and managed to get inside the chicken tractor.

Last week Farmer Margie told me that feral dogs came on her property again and killed several chickens. Margie had heard her own dogs barking in the middle of the night, got up and went to investigate. She discovered that a chicken tractor closest to the road had been broken into by feral dogs. Four hens lay dead. The big golden rooster known as Fancypants (Margie’s daughter Rachel named him) was injured but survived.

There have been several chicken kills at Bee Heaven over the last three or four years due to feral dogs. They come at night through gaps in the fence, looking for something to eat — or kill. They smell chickens and are big and strong enough to somehow break in to the tractors, the portable metal coops that the chickens live in.  Several dozen chickens so far have been killed by feral dogs.

Bloody pawprints on the top of the chicken tractor.

The worst killing happened on January 16, 2009. Two large dogs (you could tell by the bloody paw prints) broke in to three chicken tractors and decimated about two dozen birds. Feathers and blood and torn chicken parts lay scattered in the front yard. Margie lost good birds that night: Goliath (that was my name for him), the large gentle Cuckoo Maran rooster, and Henita, the little black hen with black shiny feathers.

Feral dogs are the biggest reason why egg production is way down for the second season. There just aren’t enough hens at Bee Heaven to meet the demand for eggs. And it takes some time for baby chicks to grow up and start laying.

Feral dogs are also a huge, ongoing problem in Redland. I’ve heard stories about dogs killing chickens at other farms. At least one dog was spotted with a chicken in its mouth. It got shot. End of problem? Not really.

These feathers are all that’s left of a chicken killed by dogs.

The problem continues as long as people keep dumping their unwanted dogs in farm country. What are they thinking when they do that? That someone will magically take in and care for the now-discarded family member? Not likely, and dogs go feral and become hard to catch. They run in the night killing chickens and other animals to survive. Is this what the owners want for their once beloved pets?

Read Margie’s post Requiem for a rooster at Bee Heaven Farm’s blog.

Read Full Post »