It’s In Their Nature

One of the  most disheartening aspects of wildlife rehabilitation is  answering a call from a pet owner who admits their dog wounded or mauled a small mammal, or someone whose cat nabbed a bird and injured it. I do not have the skills nor tools to treat wildlife wounded badly and exposed to possible infection, so I typically refer these folks to Wildcare of Oklahoma. They are a larger facility with staff trained to handle critical and life-threatening situations. But the crux of the matter is that, despite it being in the nature of the dog or cat to attack and kill lessor species, my opinion is that it is also the responsibility of the pet owner to assure they do their best to help avoid these incidences in the first place.

The large paw prints could be seen throughout the woodlands, in my gardens and flowerbeds, and all over our property.
The large paw prints could be seen throughout the woodlands, in my gardens and flower beds, and all over our property.

I have written before about my neighbor to the north who, over a year ago, took in a female pit-mix breed who had been dumped off in front of his home. Eventually, she gave birth to eight pups. Having good intentions, my neighbor hoped to keep the mother and one or two of the pups since he had recently lost his two older dogs. His plan for the rest of the pups was to find them homes when they got a little older. Several months later, he told me two of the puppies had died of distemper, and that he planned to get all of the rest vaccinated and eventually spayed and neutered. For now, he had separated the females from the males. He also admitted he had fallen in love with the whole lot of them, and wanted to keep all of the pups which, by then, had grown to be larger in size than their mother. He also explained he would build fencing to keep them from escaping or seeing and bothering Daisy when she came up in our yard. But as the months passed and spring arrived this year, nothing had been done in this regard. And, despite neighborhood people advising him it was against city code to have more than three dogs and many of them reporting it to the police after the dogs had escaped to run the neighborhood many times, still little was done to contain the dogs. Soon, folks in the immediate neighborhood grew weary of the large marauding dogs frequently escaping during all hours of the day and night. FD and I were also sick of their daily visits to our place.

The routine for the escapees, was to come up to our property from the woodland bottom, then out of the front gate and into the neighborhood. As they passed through, they urinated on my herbs and shrubs and tromped through my lettuce and tender vegetable plants, smashing flowers along the way. They left huge piles of crap wherever they pleased. They terrorized our chickens during the daylight, and tried to dig under the chicken fencing and driveway gate at night. A couple of times when I had my three little dogs out for bathroom duty, I had to quickly scurry them back in the house to avoid confrontation with the large mutts. Then, while walking the woodlands one morning, I found a dead mama raccoon along with her dead baby, and another morning a dead fox kit lay on our slope behind the house. I suspected the dogs had killed the coons and fox kit, since they were not eaten as a wild predator would have done. Instead, they were simply torn up at the throat and discarded. Other mammals, like a mama opossum and her little ones who had been regular visitors to the water tub, also vanished suddenly, leading me to presume they had been killed by the escaping dogs as well. Even worse, the owner of the pecan orchard mentioned that an orphaned calf he had pastured with his cattle was also missing. I desperately hoped this pack of dogs had not gone so far as to kill a defenseless calf.

Finally, I approached my neighbor about the problem and he admitted the police had contacted him about complaints from other folks around the neighborhood. He knew the mama dog was the instigator of the escapes and the leader of the killings, and that she often had two or more of her pups with her on her outings. He also confessed knowing for some time that the mother dog was a killer, telling me she had brought home several dead raccoon babies and other victims over the time since he had taken her in. At this point, I informed him that he had to get fences built now, because soon the woodlands would be filled with fawns. Daisy was due to give birth by late May, and three other does in the area would also have fawns in the next month. It would be no challenge for the killer mama dog to nab a helpless fawn in the first two weeks of its life – and I was not about to let that happen. I admit, I had thoughts about killing these dogs. But deep down, I knew I was really not capable of killing anything. And with FD at work whenever I sighted the dogs most days, it seemed that nothing and no one was going to stop them.

Mama Fox and Kit_5559
Mama Fox and her baby at the water tub in the canyon.
Fox Kit_5641
I found the fox kit two days later, dead on the slope.
Blood at the throat and ear were the only signs of trauma.
Blood at the throat and ear were the only signs of trauma.

In early June, I was almost thankful that I did not see Daisy deer in our area. Recently, she had disappeared to have her babies elsewhere, and had not returned to our property – a place she had reared her little ones each year, for the past four years. I hoped she had found a nice, sheltered backup place to deliver and raise her young, because her old stomping grounds were no longer safe. The neighbor’s dogs were escaping daily, and folks a quarter of a mile west of us had seen the mama dog and some of her pups headed to the river on a daily basis. With this danger to all the deer in the area, I hoped Daisy and her fawns were alright, and I prayed that the other does had managed to find cover as well. While I tried to be compassionate to my neighbor, I was also aggravated and angry that he still had not made any effective effort to build fences or stop the mama dog from escaping. Unfortunately, my only resort was to call him each time I saw the dogs to let him know they were out, or had been out, and hope the continued calls to police from neighbors would eventually prompt some result.

Mama Opossum used to show up with her babies on her back most mornings around 9:00. She and her babies went missing just after the fox kit was killed.
Mama Opossum used to show up with her babies on her back most mornings around 9:00. But she and her babies disappeared just after the fox kit was killed.

Then, one morning in mid-June, the situation escalated. I spotted two or three dogs at the bottom of the slope near the deer feeder. Anger ran through me once again and, thinking about fawns in the woods now, I was absolutely sick to my stomach as I remembered the death we had already witnessed in our woodlands. For the first time in my life, I went for a gun. I walked down from the back porch and towards the rim of the slope. I was nervous, not even sure I could do this, but I was also as angry as I have ever been. I wanted this daily invasion in my life to be over. But as I approached the rim of the slope, a gray pit bull breed standing just to my right drew my attention. My neighbors dog – the mama dog – was still down below at the feeder along with one of her black pups, but this gray pit bull was not one of my neighbor’s dogs. Under other circumstance, this dog would have been a beautiful specimen – glossy gray coat with a fancy leather collar and a silver chain adorning its neck. I knew it must be someone’s pet that had broken loose, but it did not act like a “pet” at all. Instead, it was threatening, growling, and advancing towards me rapidly. Having no time to even think about trying to remember how to aim and fire my weapon, I backed up to the porch, but became trapped against the railing. Even if I could have climbed up and over the rails to the porch, that dog would have had no trouble sinking its teeth into my legs. Then, just as I knew I’d have no choice but to shoot, the pit bull suddenly ran off to the north, towards my neighbor’s fence. A few of the neighbors pups were barking and jumping in an attempt to clear the fence back into their yard. Fortunately, their activity had distracted the pit bull from his advance on me! At this time, I dashed in the house, and called the police. They arrived quickly, but the pack of dogs were already headed back west to the river by the time the police entered the canyon below our home. Talking with them later, I could tell the police had had their fill of complaints about these dogs. Apparently, just a few days prior, they had tried to contact my neighbor about collecting four of the dogs. Considering this latest event, the police took action the very next morning, as four city police cars and the animal control truck converged at the neighbor’s front yard, ultimately removing four of the dogs. I later learned from the animal control officer that, thankfully, the killer mama dog was one of the dogs taken away.

Deer Pen Extension_1167
I need to move a few raspberry bushes before we can move the existing fence out to provide even more room to run.
This small 35 foot section of fence cost us $680. Now Emma and Ronnie have a more peaceful location to feed, hidden from the neighbor's dogs. The only problem is they are next to the chicken pen. Dale and Wesley the roosters are mighty loud when they compete at crowing!
This small 35 foot section of fence cost us $680. But now, Emma and Ronnie have a more peaceful and shaded location to feed, hidden from the neighbor’s dogs. The only distraction is that the new feeding area is right next to the chicken pen, and Dale and Wesley the roosters are mighty loud when they compete at crowing!

While the neighbor’s three remaining dogs have not, to my knowledge, escaped since the mama and others were removed, they do bark and growl and lunge at the fence anytime we are in our yard. To try to minimize the possibility of an escape, FD and I put up some spare livestock fence we had on hand to reinforce and add some height to our side of the neighbor’s short, chain-link fencing so the dogs could not leap over as they had been. But despite our efforts, the dogs have still caused a lot of trouble for us while feeding Emma and Ronnie deer. We no more than walk towards the deer pen, or start to feed them, and the dogs begin to growl and bark, and the fawns take cover. It seemed almost impossible to get through a feeding without interference from the dogs. To address this, I called our neighbor and he agreed to keep his dogs inside during the fawn’s feeding times. At first, that worked fairly well. But for two weeks now, the dogs have been out continually, and we are back to dealing with Emma and Ronnie taking flight, crashing into the deer pen fencing and skinning their faces, and constantly running in fear. Finally, we strapped some old tarp to the fence to create a visible barrier so the dogs could not see the activity on our place.  That has helped, but still, if the dogs hear us talking, or hear us open the gates to the deer pen, the barking, growling and jumping at the fence begins and the fawns run for cover. So at the end of June, we ordered additional panels of six-foot tall kennel fencing to add an area to the south side of the deer pen that will get us further away from the dogs when we feed Emma and Ronnie. Needless to say, I am incensed that the presence of the neighbors dogs has cost us money to reinforce and create visual barriers on the fencing between us in order to keep his dogs from barking at our every move, and having to add on expensive kennel fencing to provide solitude for feeding the fawns.

The barrier we fashioned to help keep the neighbor's large dogs from seeing Emma and Ronnie. This image was taken from Emma and Ronnie's pen.
The barrier we fashioned to help keep the neighbor’s large dogs from seeing Emma and Ronnie.
Emma and Ronnie have a large pen area plus the area between the metal building and old chicken barn.
Emma and Ronnie have a large, U-shaped pen, including a 10 x 60 foot run between the metal building and old chicken barn. The neighbors fence is just beyond the orange trailer.

Years ago, when we were raising Daisy deer and rehabilitating injured Holly deer, we occasionally had stray dogs get on our place. As soon as they would see Daisy and Holly, they would jump at the fence and the deer would crash into the opposite fencing trying to escape, usually cutting and bruising themselves up terribly. To this, one of my dog-loving friends once said, “Well, the dogs are just doing what dogs do”.  Of course, bluntly, she is right, and I understand that it is in a dog’s nature to chase and kill. And it is in a deer’s nature to flee danger and run like the wind. And it is my responsibility to protect the wildlife I care for. Ultimately, I cannot do anything about my neighbor’s lack of responsibility, or his choice of pet. I know FD and I will do what we can to help Emma and Ronnie grow up healthy and make it to their release this winter in prime, physical condition. But I am not sure that, when next year’s fawning season rolls around, it will be wise to continue with rehabilitation of deer, at least until we can afford a different kind of setup and move the entire deer pen. Raising them next to aggressive predators like my neighbor’s dogs is not only unnatural, but it may also set them up for letting their guard down in the wild if they become too accustomed to the dogs presence while growing up in the safety of the deer pen. Hopefully, their flight instinct will serve them well when they finally roam free on the Ten-Acre Ranch and beyond, just as it has served Daisy deer since her release five years ago…

© 2016 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


41 thoughts on “It’s In Their Nature

  1. Great article, Lori! 🙂
    My wife, myself, and our little Shih Tzu dogs have been repeatedly attacked and bitten by huge neighborhood dogs. Plus there has been very serious car wrecks caused by these large dogs lunging in front of vehicles. We’ve taken people to court (and won) when peoples’ dogs bit us and they did not offer to help us with emergency room costs. Now things are better… (knock on wood)! Many folks are, unfortunately, crass and indifferent about others. Our dogs are always leashed when outdoors.

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    1. Thank you, Tom. How terrible to be attacked and bitten. My motto is still, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Being responsible is a big part of that.

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      1. Your neighbor is a long time friend of mine. I have observed his decline as he has aged – I knew Jessica (the nice dog) had died shortly after the momma dog, Laya got over the birth of the pups, and I had a suspicion that was how Jessica came to pass. I have to tread lightly to be able to stay in touch with him, but I can assure you, this is not the animal loving individual I have known. There’s a lot more at play here than drinking and irresponsible care of his dogs an consideration for all the wildlife around – especially the deer- and I was certain that things would come to a no good end for the dogs and especially all the other precious creatures of nature you write about. I gently made suggestions and comments that maybe would inspire the dogs being sent to a no-kill animal shelter, but to no avail. The person I knew would have never allowed this to happen. It is a very sad situation – and knowing what I do about the whole story of this man’s life, just breaks my heart to pieces. I think that sometime we just have to acknowledge that just at some point in our lives we are too young for animals, so too can we be too sick and old to have animals. I saw this coming and I tried to reason it off with him, but, I think the time has come to realize that reality can no longer sink all the way in for some- it is sad, very sad for the deer, for you and FD, for the dogs and especially for my friend – He is not a cold insensitive individual, but rather someone with a long history of sadness, heartbreak, loss, withdrawal and now illnesses that come with aging.

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        1. Susan… you have expressed what I know deep down of our neighbor. You are correct about Jessica. He told me the truths of Laya’s killing instinct and he admitted that she bit Jessica, and even though the vet patched her up, she simply gave up living. Knowing Jessica’s personality, she was fragile and skittish and no doubt the viciousness did her in. His three old dogs that I knew and loved were no problem at all when we raised Daisy. They rarely barked. They were gentle beings. They were fine with Daisy giving birth in their backyard, and my neighbor was fine with Daisy and supportive. I have seen his kindness. These three dogs that are left (after four including Laya were taken by the police) constantly bark, they growl and fight, and now, just as I worried, our little deer are growing accustomed to the noise and no longer fear it. I worry they will simply be wild dog or coyote bait when they are freed. I can only pray that their instinct is stronger when they SEE dogs or coyotes. For now, our shabby barrier of tarps will suffice. But it is still a dangerous situation and I will have to give up animal rehabilitation after this winter.

          Your comment is beautifully written. I have prayed about all of this long and hard. All I know is, we will raise Emma and Ronnie as best we can, and after this winter I will be forced to quit rehabilitation.

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  2. So sad to know that others lack of care has impinged so badly on your kind and generous way of living. If only everyone had more value and respect for life, the life of others and the animals that live around them.

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    1. I agree, Laura. There are times my neighbor has shown kindness and caring about Daisy. But I feel now, his warped sense of “love” for his dogs has caused a lapse of good judgement in matters of community and safety.

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  3. I am not really sure what to say here. The predominate feature of this very sad blog post is that the owner of those dogs is completely, and utterly at blame here. The nature of his dogs might be to pack and to kill but he encourages that behaviour with his abject lack of responsibility. Everything that has happened on your property and anywhere else that his dogs have been able to roam is HIS responsibility and he should be holding the blame for what has happened. The breed of his dogs isn’t truly the issue here. A pack of marauding dogs is a dangerous thing and any dog has the propensity to develop hunting and pack mentality if left to their own devices. We had a sheepdog and a German pointer on our property recently with designs on our chooks. Any dog can be destructive but pitbulls are the dog of choice for irresponsible people who don’t realise (or care if we are being honest) how their lack of responsibility impacts on the wildlife and the neighbourhood around them. I see it over and over again where dogs are let loose and damage property, people and wildlife and it is ALWAYS the owner at blame. Our dogs are not allowed outside the compound area around our house. We are well aware that our dogs would be a handful if we didn’t look after them, or exercise them but that’s true of all dogs. I am disgusted that your neighbour would behave in the way that he has behaved. I would like to see dogs treated as extensions of their owner and all blame being laid at the owners feet. I find it very hard to understand how he has been allowed to get away with his terrible behaviour for so long?! If a dog is even reported as wandering the streets here it is picked up by the council and sent to the pound whereby the owner has to pay a hefty fine for allowing their dog to roam.

    To think that this would impact on your wildlife work saddens me beyond belief. The deer that you have raised have given you a new direction in life and to lose that now, would be a terrible thing. What is your neighbour doing to those dogs to make them so unfriendly? Our boys bark with joy whenever anyone turns up and would let them through the gate and back out again with all of our worldly possessions, most happily. Earl would even assist them by carrying things out and would then happily flee in the getaway car. Dogs are a product of their owners behaviour. Aggression is learned and reinforced and your neighbour shouldn’t be allowed to own dogs at all if he is in dereliction of his responsibilities as an owner. I think all of the dogs should be removed from his property and he shouldn’t be allowed to own ANY dog in the future. I am so sad that we aren’t your neighbours. This story would have a much better eventuality and everyone would be happy with the outcome. Please accept my hugs from over the water Lori. I know how stressed out you must be about this situation and how angry you must be at your neighbour and his dogs. It might be time to seek a bit of legal advice about this matter as it is seriously impacting on your life. I am sure that there are avenues that you could explore where the situation could be sorted out with a bit of a threat of legal action. Your neighbour hasn’t been forced to be responsible so far and all he has done is sit back and let everyone else deal with the repercussions of his lack of responsibility. It might be time to hit him in his hip pocket. Most people start to sit up and take notice if there is a threat that they might have to pay up. Sometimes a simple legal missive is enough to get people to realise that they can’t get away with their behaviour without serious implications. It doesn’t cost much to get a lawyer to draft a letter. I have had to resort to this in the past and it worked for us. Give it a go, seriously, what have you got to lose? 😦

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    1. I completely agree with all that you have stated and expressed. I am thankful, at the very least, that there are only three dogs over there and it seems without the mother dog instigating escapes and killings, things are again peaceful in the woods… except for the barking and fence pouncing. Unfortunately, we have contacted the police and unless the neighborhood bands together to say the dogs are a public nuisance there is little we can do. We are back from the street and so is the neighbor’s house. The folks on the street are more than a football field distance away, so the noise isn’t a problem to them. They were only upset with the escapes when that was going on. So, it’s not a situation easily dealt with.

      Fran, life’s experiences will come to me regardless of my neighbor’s ignorance or lack of responsibility. The deer will always be in my life, We may have to make some changes and we may have to get tough with the neighbor, but Universe/God will make sure we get what we need! 🙂

      I liked what you said about knowing your dogs and what they are capable of. I think my neighbor is in denial about what he actually has on his hands.

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      1. I just don’t think your neighbour cares to be honest Lori. I think your neighbour is one of those people who lets everyone else be responsible for “his” actions. There are a lot of them in the world and they tend to cause more than their fair share of stress for their neighbours and the unfortunate people who have to deal with the aftermath. I am sorry to hear that you are unable to find a relatively easy solution to this problem. If your dog barks loudly here you can be warned and then fined! The most obvious problem here is that your neighbour is not taking responsibility for the dogs in his charge and is obviously not training, exercising or spending enough time with them for them to be anything other than feral. That makes me really sad as this breed of dog is truly wonderful when treated properly. The difference between a loved dog and an unloved dog is huge and your neighbour shouldn’t be allowed to own dogs if he isn’t willing to take responsibility for caring for them and training them appropriately 😦

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        1. Unfortunately, no one gets to make the call about who can have dogs and who cannot. He’s feeding them, and he was made to license them and have the necessary vaccines, so according to city code, he’s doing what is required. I agree with you that he likely doesn’t care about being responsible. I’m not sure how this will go down. I just know I came in again this morning after feeding, overwhelmed by the barking. I can’t walk out the front door without noise. 😦

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          1. That is terrible Lori. I truly feel for you and your situation. When I mentioned lawyers, I was talking about mental anguish and stress that this man is putting you under. Isn’t there some kind of litigation for that? Your life has been severely impacted by his actions. He isn’t doing anything to prevent his dogs from barking or threatening you and whether or not you can see them or they can get to you, you feel threatened in your own space. Surely there is some way to segregate a section of his property (fence etc.) to keep them from being directly in contact with your dividing fence? I am just trying to find a way for you to get back some of what you have obviously lost by this incredibly BAD neighbour and the consequences of his actions. I find it truly hard to believe that there isn’t some kind of law that would prevent him from allowing his dogs to impact so severely on your stress levels.

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    1. Ha ha!! Judith… you are cracking me up. That was a nice way of putting it. I have to admit I’ve had some thoughts about my neighbor and his dogs… but the scenarios I cook up aren’t likely to happen. Ha ha!

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  4. This must be so stressful for you. It sounds as if you have stated your case, kindly, diplomatically, over and over and over again, and the neighbor, somehow, seems to not be willing to behave, well, in a neighborly way. I would have a very hard time containing my anger, and yet, what can you do? Sounds like you are doing or planning to do everything that you can, but it dismays me that the expense is YOURS. I also fear that this story won’t necessarily resolve itself without harm coming to some innocent creature. Wise saying that old one: good fences make good neighbors.

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    1. Charlotte, it is stressful – especially when I see Ronnie and Emma go running away from the growling and barking. At least for now they are in fear and they run. The thing is, they crash into fences trying to flee. This situation will resolve itself somehow. The other four dogs are gone now, and I am doubtful they found homes (an indication from animal control). Once they’re huge and have a background of killing and escaping, it’s very difficult to find an appropriate new owner. You are right, because of the lack of responsibility on my neighbor’s part (finding the pups homes when they were young) probably cost them their lives. Unfortunately, if things do not improve here, I don’t think these remaining three will fare well either. I know the neighbor’s to the north have had just as much anger and upset over these mutts as we have had.

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  5. This post made me angry and sad. Unfortunately, human beings are a very randomly behaved lot! All you have to do is look at the violence around the world and that is evident. I thought narf7 had some good comments, especially the one about possibly having a lawyer draft a letter to the fellow. Most of all I am glad you didn’t have to shoot the dog that threatened you, as I know it would have really taken a toll on you. Also, I am so impressed at you trying to approach the neighbour to do the right thing. That is a hard thing to do when you are angry. We have a neighbour who put in a doggie door so their little dog could come and go while they were out drinking. They would come home and pass out and the little dog would be frenzied half the night from fear of being alone. We talked and talked and talked to them about it for about four years, and then finally had to call the authorities. There is a protocol so that was not an instant fix, but after another year we finally got them to keep their dog in at night so that we could sleep. Our bedroom is right next to the fence where their yard is, and so the barking was truly offensive. Sadly, the couple’s life has been ruined by their use of alcohol, but that is no reason that the rest of the neighbourhood should pay the price. Best of luck with the resolution of this very unfair situation, Lori. xx

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    1. I think a nagging “little” problem of a noisy, yapping dog is just as big of a deal as what we’re dealing with regarding big, aggressive dogs. And your comment about trying to do the right thing when you are angry really hit home for me, Ardys. Many times I called the neighbor and he didn’t pick up – and I hung up before the answering machine came on. He saw my number on caller ID and called back. I am glad I didn’t leave a message while hot with anger. By waiting for him to call back later, his tone was such that I was not tempted to blow. I still think phone or face to face is best. My neighbor and I have had some heated and angry exchanges – when he was drunk and I was angry. It solved nothing. But when we are both level-headed and reasonable, we can at least express and find some understanding.

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  6. That sucks that a neighbor does not want to be responsible for his own dogs and/or pets. I have encountered other neighbors in the past who let their dogs or cats roam free and they go to the bathroom everywhere and destroy things. Sadly, dogs that don’t have the proper training will often kill other animals they see. Around where I live, I see packs of dogs of all breeds roaming around because animal control does a poor job here. I can stand outside during the night and see dog packs laying down in the yard and barking.

    We do have some people like a nearby business owner who leaves food and water out for these stray dogs. But it’s not safe or healthy for the dogs to be roaming around and killing other things and messing things up on other people’s property. Hope the police and animal control there can put a stop to the problem there.

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    1. Thanks, Nathan. You brought up an interesting observation about dogs at night. I also see this in the evenings and early mornings when people let their dogs out to do their business and they roam all over town, and before long there’s a “pack” of them. I used to walk early mornings, but after a few dangerous encounters with growling dogs, I learned to carry a big stick for walking. Eventually I gave up walking. Too many dogs either threatening or just following me home. I am always surprised by the lack of responsibility with pets.

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  7. Wow! I was at the edge of my seat for that one! Thrilling read. Yet so full of sadness. All those poor critters, especially the fox! Breaks my heart. And what a singularly shitty position to put you in as well! My dog is trained to look to me before attacking anything. And she is perfect with the chickens. They all hang out together. But I took the time to make sure she was trained. And restrained when needed. That neighbor of yours doesn’t deserve dogs! Shame on him for being so selfish and lazy. Makes me furious on your behalf and the behalf of the dogs.

    I have a thought though. I know you’ve already invested in the new fencing but what about audio warfare? A few high pitched sonic speakers pointing towards the fence/tarps set to go off when they bark or when you push a button would train them to puss off entirely. And then stay gone.

    Teach those dogs that what happens on your side of the fence is your business! It may be time for you guys to take it to the next level! For all the wildlife! I wish I was there to assist as I’m totally invested now and have an arsenal of trickery up my sleeve.

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  8. Hi Lori,
    As I kept reading your post I became more and more astounded and incensed that (1) Your neighbour seemed so uncaring about the dogs’ effects on neighbours and wildlife and didn’t act, and (2) That the dogs were not removed by police earlier, given the number of complaints. I would have been livid. If the dogs had/have to be shot, it would be the fault of the irresponsible owner. Those situations seem unworkable and dangerous.

    Marauding dogs and feral cats do a lot of damage to Australian wildlife here. There are more rules about dog ownership though. Cats do an incredible amount of damage to our native birds, rodents and reptiles. Since my neighbours got cats, I’ve seen all but a few species of birds disappear from my 1/2 acre block and my small reptiles have also vanished. They also spread disease to wildlife. Toxoplasmosis from cats is now killing our native mammals.

    I love dogs and cats, but people need to think carefully about whether they have the time and resources before acquiring them. Not only have you lost wildlife and your ability to rehabilitate them has suffered, but your freedom to have an unspoilt garden, a dog crap free environment (disease and parasite spread?) and your right to feel safe as you walk about have been affected. The added expense of installing more fencing must be difficult to handle. I’m so sorry you’ve had this added stress. I don’t know what the answer is now. There is the legal option as another person suggested, but I know how some people get inflamed by that and I could understand your reticence. He doesn’t seem very responsible as it is. It may also be costly. I understand your fear that future fawns may get too used to the dogs’ presence. I just hope the situation will be resolved soon and in the least painful manner.

    I’ve seen what dogs can do for “fun” to animals. Sadly, when we lived on a farm, a neighbour’s dog was loose, and attacked our hand reared orphaned sheep. Normally my own dog (a kelpie that herded sheep) would act as more of a guard dog and was taught to never attack them. However, that deep wild killer instinct was stimulated by the neighbour’s dog drawing blood and he joined in to tear the sheep apart. It was too late by the time I got to them. When dogs are in packs, that wild killer instinct can be much more prominent. A quiet, gentle dog can become a killer, especially when it is a breed that has been bred for hunting/fighting etc. I’ve also seen native dingo parents teach their pups to hunt by harassing calves and have found a calf lying dead and uneaten, but swollen up from bites. The pack instinct is very strong in some breeds. It’s up to owners to carefully manage their pets.

    Hugs to you! x

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  9. Oh how I feel your frustration about this! I applaud you and FD for all the things you’ve done to try to mitigate the problems caused by those darn dogs and their neglectful owner. And I wouldn’t blame you if you’d decided to shoot one of those dogs, especially after you’d already tried so many other means of getting them off your property.

    Some areas around here have a big problem with feral cats, and I’ve got friends who are cat lovers but who have nevertheless been driven almost to the point of shooting cats. It’s really a shame that some people are so irresponsible when it comes to caring for animals, isn’t it?

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    1. Hello Kim. The dogs have been contained in the yard since the police took the others, and it was probably the mother dog that instigated most of the escapes in the past. She’s gone now. I truly hope they euthanized her – she’s a killer. We have feral cats too, but most of the time the foxes take care of them. I find paws every so often, and it’s the foxes who leave body parts here and there to gnaw on for days. We try not to shoot anything unless it’s a threat or it’s clear it has disease. My neighbor’s old dogs (passed on nearly two years ago now) were beautiful and wonderful dogs. I suppose now that we have these aggressive and loud beasts around I appreciate the good old days.

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  10. Lori that is distressing as hell. Pure and simple hell. I do understand the neighbor. I bet those remaining dogs still have not been neutered or spayed. Would he do that if some one offered to take the beasts to the vet such as animal control? There needs to be better laws where bully breeds are concerned. Bully breeds can be great dogs in the hands of responsible, Neighbor is not and probably never works with them to make the dog that they could be. That is sad as well.

    I feel for you and FD. I would be incensed about the whole scenario. Please learn to shoot that gun. You really don’t know the temperament of the remaining dogs and you could be attacked. Furthermore I have worried about you walking in the woodlands alone. You don’t know what could possibly be out there. Please say that you will begin to take precautionary measures for your safety.

    Those photos of the dead animals hit me in my heart. I hate needless killing of wildlife by dogs or humans.

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  11. How miserable for you. I’m a dog owner. I love dogs, I’ve had pit bull mix dogs and they were smart and trained to behave. It’s extremely irresponsible for someone to allow their dogs to run loose like that. WIthout proper training and supervision it’s no surprise they were basically feral. Yes, the dogs were doing what dogs do, however the neighbor has no business allowing such things. In the long run everyone suffers, the wildlife, you, the dogs and even the neighbor, it’s a no win situation if left as it was. I understand rescuing a dog dumped by the side of the road, but that also means that you accept the responsibility of making sure the dog you rescued becomes a good citizen of your home and neighborhood.
    We had a dog (a doberman mix) that lived two houses down from us that was allowed to run the neighborhood, it didn’t take long before there was a temporary pack running around, they killed several other small dogs and it was a nightmare taking my small dog out in his own yard because we did not have a fence at that time and there were several times i grabbed him and ran for the house. After long complaints to the neighbor and the involvement of the police after another small dog was killed (the owners sued as it was a champion show dog and had been very expensive) there was a six foot fence installed around the neighbors back yard. They then started putting the dog out on a rope that reached the front public sidewalk. While coming home one day I found myself with a snarling huge dog with his front paws on my shoulders, the owner came out and pulled him off before I was bitten but not before I told the man that if I ever saw that dog tied out like that again I would see it was killed even if I had to do that myself. I did call the police and the dog was not tied in front any more (I wasn’t the first to have the experience of a snarling dog in my face). The dog had bitten everyone in that home multiple times, yet they kept him. All the neighbors were relieved when that dog finally died.
    I’m glad you didn’t have to shoot the gray pit. I’ve had my dogs escape once or twice, but I certainly didn’t allow constant repeats of that. I don’t believe a dog should run loose, it’s dangerous for them (assuming you really give a damn about them) and for anyone meeting your dog while they are not under your supervision and in a semi rural or rural area it’s pretty much a given that the dog will, at the very least, chase wildlife and it’s no stretch to realize that a predator will follow their instinct and dogs (cats as well) are predators. I also know it’s just a matter of time before your neighbor will have a more immediate problem with those dogs, they have not been taught to respect him and that’s dangerous, the breed of dogs makes absolutely no difference.
    I hope the situation will be resolved. I think legal action might be a reasonable option, especially if a group of all the neighbors join together in the suit. I hope Daisy and her fawns are okay. I know you miss seeing her and knowing she’s safe.

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  12. Wow, reading this saga made me so angry at irresponsible pet owners. How awful to put you through that and how sad for the fox. I’m so sorry this is happening to you – but good for you for working toward a solution. Here’s hoping no harm comes to the fawns. Karen

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  13. It’s tricky, isn’t it? I hate it when my dog kills even a chipmunk, but, as they say, it is in her nature. When things run into the dog yard there is very little I can do.
    I hear people on chicken keeping groups all the time that talk about how they shot the neighbors dog for getting at their chickens, or how they plan to. I’m not sure I could do it.
    On the flip side, I’ve had to warn my neighbors that my llamas can and will kill their dogs that insist on chasing them.

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  14. I’ve been worried about those dogs. And you in the woods. Dogs chase and kill. It’s what they do unless restrained and have responsible owners.
    As you know my husband and dog, Molly, were attacked during a routine dog walk by 2 aggressive dogs (who happened to be pits – who had viciously attacked other dogs and people. And whose owners had stubbornly refused to be responsible and said their dogs were “sweet”)
    Dogs of any sort behave differently in packs – even the “sweet” ones who behave so different when their owners are around. The remaining dogs have already learned bad behavior from their mother and siblings. Sooner or later their fencing will not top them – they are showing aggressive behavior along the fence.
    Please document: date, time what they do when you are in your yard/deer pen. A video or two with sound. Complain to police/county animal control periodically – to let them know the problem is still there – and maybe worse. Maybe they will drop by and chat with ownere periodically.
    Do you use shock wires on tops of fences?
    Does the neighbor have “dangerous dogs” signs? Tax records may have his mortgage/insurance company info – sometimes those two companies can do more than threatened citizens – they worry about getting sued along with homeowner. Some companies will not write insurance for places with certain dog breeds – or dogs with history of bad behavior or make the owner carry extra insurance ( which costs more)
    Not trying to be a bad neighbor…two years ago I would have said just try to get along or move BUT then my husband and dog were attacked by a pack of sweet doggies.
    Keep that gun close. You won’t use it unnecessarily, but back-against-the-wall changes the game.
    Foxes. Possums. Poor babies.

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    1. So many wise ideas here! Thank you for the input. I think it’s a good idea to begin video documenting everything. I have kept all email correspondence just in case I needed it. And fortunately, I am able to report to animal control from time to time. The officer has stopped by here a few times since they took the four dogs over limit. We have a good relationship with the city police as well. I was also told by a city worker who reads meters that they carry mace and stun guns on their meter routes. He said most owners deny that their “sweet” doggie wouldn’t attack anyone and often, nothing is done.

      After some of our fence was cut with a wire cutters this weekend (I’ll have to post about that) I’m beginning to think we need to hot wire the fence. But there again is more expense and work. Oh, to win the lottery and build a fortress of a fence all around the property and put razor wire around the top!! Ha ha! 😀

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      1. No one should have to live like this – sigh. Life is so complicated everywhere no. (Some of those automatic animal cams discreetly placed viewing fence? As you say, the innocent are forced into spending money and effort against those who are the problem but no one wants to cross or do anything about) Utility workers may be you best allies.
        Take care and live free as you can

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  15. What a sad post. I’m so sorry that all this is happening. That neighbour appears to be really irresponsible and it seems he is uncaring about other animals. Actually, it seems, by letting the dogs roam like that, especially knowing what is happening, that he is uncaring towards them as well. I hope the situation improves and I hope there are no more attacks on the wildlife by these dogs 😢

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  16. Reading this, I absolutely understand why you are angry. You’ve done everything you can to resolve the situation. I hope the authorities stay on top of this.

    I, too, have dealt with dangerous dogs. Not recently. But when the kids were growing up and such dogs would show up in the yard. We were all terrified as I knew none of us stood a chance against their massive power.

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    1. It seems to be an age-old problem. I guess as long as there are irresponsible pet owners in the world, we will continue to have problems. 😦 It’s bad enough as adults to have to deal with these encounters, but it’s even more difficult when you think of children being attacked.

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  17. Lori, I have so much to say and only one finger to type it all with, but in the end the most important thing is that I’m glad you are safe! That moment with the scary dog put a knot in my stomach!

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    1. Lynda, I hope your surgery was a success and you’re back to plucking away at the keyboard in no time! I’ll bet Bob will be happy when you are healed as well. At least the worst of the dog situation has been handled. I am not happy about the noise and the stress that it has caused Emma and Ronnie. That tarping on the fence won’t last forever – we’ll be lucky if it makes it through the winter months until we release the fawns in mid January.

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  18. This is a sad situation and handled admirably. It’s one thing being a dog (animal) lover, but quite another being taken for granted. One cannot just turn a blind eye to the neighbors actually be “party” to their dogs’ behavior. The right thing to do is to be responsible pet owners and not let the animals invade others’ space!

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    1. At least the worst of the “killer” situation has been dealt with. Now we just have the noise – constant barking and growling to deal with. My neighbor’s old dogs (two deceased and one killed by the mama dog) were gentle and actually respected Daisy deer. Since Daisy was used to them, and knew they were not a threat, things worked out fine for everyone. But these dogs are a threat and to be feared. I am not sure how we can continue to safely raise fawns. This may be a sign that until those dogs “expire” we will have to give up deer and small mammal rehabilitation.:(

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