Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Predatory Dogs

The recent problem in Folsom regarding the rancher who shot a dog from a nearby housing development reminded me of an event that occurred when I was about 11 years old.

One morning, about 7 a.m., we all awoke to a woman's blood-curdling screams just outside my parent's bedroom window. Hurrying over, and expecting the absolute worst, we discovered our dog, Ranger, happily engaged in defoliating a live, screaming chicken of all its feathers on its head. We were aghast. The chicken soon died.

Having grown up in a rural household, my father knew the iron rule of rural life. Chicken dogs cannot be permitted to remain alive. I don't know if Ranger was put down, but he was quickly removed - forever - from our lives.

I sympathize with the rancher on this matter. Once the dog started harassing livestock, even for an instant, its life was forfeit.

Here are two letters-to-the-editor from the Sacramento Bee:
Dogs are predators

Re "Dog owner calls it murder" (Our Region, March 20): The story goes like this: Dog owner allows man's best friend to roam unleashed. With or without knowledge of owner, dog harasses or kills livestock. Dog is shot by livestock owner. The dog owner cannot possibly be at fault. There was no need to kill the dog.

Years ago I learned the bitter lesson that many dog owners feel a sweeping sense of entitlement to let dogs run loose, completely oblivious to the destruction and heartache they cause. Dogs are predators; sheep, poultry, cats, cattle and others are prey. While it is tragic to lose a pet dog, does Greg Sutter know what it feels like to walk outside and see a pen full of your beloved animals, dead and dying, that someone else's pet just ripped to pieces?

I have anguished for days over having shot dogs, because I care about all animals. I don't know of any farmer or rancher who enjoys this. Dogs that aren't shot return to a property over and over to chase and kill. I am grateful that California law protects our right to defend livestock from dogs and lawbreaking dog owners.

– Deborah Raven-Lindley, Arbuckle

Sad lesson for dog owner

When we moved to a rural area, someone warned us to watch our dogs because if they chased livestock they would be shot. These are rural rules which the young man obviously didn't know. Dogs chasing livestock can kill them and cost farmers thousands of dollars.

This young man learned a sad lesson. When you move to a rural area, you need to learn the rules and etiquette of where you live. The dog should have been collared and within sight. The man should have been carrying a leash in case they came near livestock.

The young man is responsible for his dog's death and no one should fault the farmer. The farmer knew the rules, the man did not. I feel sorry for the man, but this was avoidable if he had been more responsible in his surroundings. Dogs chase anything that will run. A dog owner should know that.

I have dogs and would also be devastated if I lost control of them near livestock; however, personal responsibility can't be shrugged off.

We animal people need to back off on this one. The farmer was in the right to keep any dog, regardless of its appearance, from his livestock.

– Karen Middleton, Citrus Heights

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