A Message To Dog Owners

       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 homeowner'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 "unrestained" again.


Dog Kills on San Juan Island
*Cattle, Sheep, Ducks, Domestic Rabbits, Cats, Ostrich, Alpacas*


posted 08/07/01

San Juan Islander

       Two lambs and a ewe on Guard Sundstrom's San Juan Valley farm died Saturday as the result of an attack by a large black dog which was running loose. Two of the sheep were dead and the other was severely injured and had to be put down. A passerby saw the dog attacking the sheep early Saturday morning and called deputies. The dog ran off before the deputies arrived.
       County law requires dogs to be licensed and under control, at all times. The first fine is $100 and progresses to up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Owners of livestock or pets chased or harassed by dogs can, under certain circumstances shoot the dog.



Dog "At Large" Problem Escalating
By Jon Zerby, San Juan County Undersheriff

       Over the past six months the San Juan County Sheriff's office has responded to 170 animal complaints. These mostly involved dogs at large or dogs chasing or injuring livestock or other domestic pets or animals.

       Last week two dogs were shot be a property owner after the dogs killed several sheep. The same dogs are believed to be responsible for the death of two cows.

In recent months we have handled incidents where dogs have killed numerous sheep, ducks, domestic rabbits, cats, an ostrich and alpacas. In some cases the civil damages to the dog's owner exceeded $25,000.

       Dog owners, and I am one, must remember - this is not a place to allow dogs to run free. County law requires your dog to be licensed and under control, at all times. The first fine is $100 and progresses to up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Owners of livestock or pets chased or harassed by your dog can, under certain circumstances, shoot the dog. The court or the sheriff can order your dog destroyed. The dog owner is responsible for any damage or injury caused by his pet, and this can be very costly.

       No one wants to see his or her dog shot or ordered destroyed. Others don't want their animals injured or killed either. Keep your dog confined and under control. The county has no animal control officers and the deputies are far too busy doing other law enforcement related things to continue to respond to animal complaints without taking action. If your dog is part of the problem, expect to be issued an expensive ticket. Pet ownership brings with it responsibility to others and the pet itself.

A Note To Livestock Owners

You are more than welcome to link to this page, or copy it and use it on your own site, or print it out to give to those that are irresponsible about dog ownership.