WESTERN GROVE — Newton County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Glenn Wheeler reports a rash of attacks on livestock by dogs in the Western Grove area over the last few weeks.
“A local farmer started finding dead calves with their noses, lips and ears missing” Wheeler said. “At first, he believed the calves were dying of blackleg or some other disease and the missing ears, lips and noses were just due to scavengers finding the calves before he did.”
Wheeler says the calves ranged in weight from 300 to nearly 600 pounds.
That continued intermittently over a few weeks until someone saw a pack of dogs in a paddock containing several recently weaned calves. The dogs were chasing the calves and catching them by the nose and killing them.
The men shot at the dogs, believing they hit one. The other dogs ran away, but not before doing great damage. The death toll in the paddock that morning was nine calves.
When the calves were inspected they were missing their noses, lips and ears just as the earlier calves had been. “That’s when he called the Sheriff’s Office and got us involved,” Wheeler said.
Deputies and investigators began checking the area for dogs fitting the description, visiting with neighbors and residents around the area. They began searching for an owner of the dogs, which appeared to be well kept and not strays, but no owners were initially located.
“The attacks stopped for nearly three weeks,” Wheeler stated, “but then the dogs started up again, killing several more calves in Newton County and at least two pigs just over into Boone County. On other farms just over the county line, the dogs have apparently chased cattle through fences as well.” One family alone has lost 31 calves. “That is a huge financial blow,” Wheeler said.
Over the weekend, the dogs were discovered to be back chasing calves and a farmer was able to shoot at least one of the dogs, but it ran away and they were unable to find it. The Sheriff’s Office was called back and, with the help of the farmers and several local residents of both Newton and Boone counties, were able to find the owner of the dog that had been shot and the likely owner of another one.
There are different dogs seen in the pack, but a couple are always there, as if they recruit other dogs, Wheeler said.
“We believe we have found the owner of the main dog involved, the one that is always in the pack.” he added. “Hopefully we can get this stopped before more livestock are killed or injured.”
Wheeler asks area farmers to keep a close eye on their livestock and report any deaths or injuries that might be related to the dogs.
“We also want people to remember that they are responsible for the actions of their dogs and can be held liable for damages,” Wheeler said. “And, owners of livestock need to remember they have the right to protect their animals from attack. If a dog or any other animal is chasing or attacking your livestock, you have the right to stop that threat. Of course, we want people to do so safely and not risk human lives doing so.”
Sheriff Keith Slape agrees.
“When families depend on livestock for their income, they have to be protective of their animals,” Slape said. “One family in this situation is easily out over $30,000 due to these dogs.”
If you have information about the attacks or if you are in the area and believe they have been in your livestock, you are asked to contact the Newton County Sheriff’s Office at (870) 446-5124.