Monday, February 17, 2014

Rural Dog Wars Part 5 - Know Your State's Laws

Own livestock?  You need to know your state's laws protecting them against dog attacks.

I can't overemphasize this one.  The world has gone mad and ANY time there's a high profile story where a dog is shot in defense of man, woman, child or any critter, the comment sections are FILLED with folks calling for the shooter to be arrested an animal cruelty charges.

After all, the doggie was just playin', don'tcha know.

It's about then I think two thoughts.

One - "I hate EVERYTHING"

and Two - "We're ALL  DOOMED"

but nevermind my depression, let's talk about Dog Laws, shall we?

The State of Washington has some pretty good ones, actually, and they're all on-line, so that's helpful.

Here's the whole lot of them, if you wish to peruse 'em.  I'm only going to comment on the first three, as they have to do with dogs going after livestock.

Revised Code of Washington 16.08.010

"Liability for injury to stock by dogs.

The owner or keeper of any dog shall be liable to the owner of any animal killed or injured by such dog for the amount of damages sustained and costs of collection, to be recovered in a civil action."

Great law, don't you think?  I don't know a single person whose been able to collect damages under this law.  Not the woman whose horse was attacked under her while taking a break at the Nisqually River, or the guy who had two pitbulls attack and nearly kill his two dogs while he was taking them ON LEASH for a run, not folks who have lost or had to repair sheep, chickens, horses, calves mauled by dogs.

I'm guessing that's why the old time lawyers gave us this one:


Dogs injuring stock may be killed.

It shall be lawful for any person who shall see any dog or dogs chasing, biting, injuring or killing any sheep, swine or other domestic animal, including poultry, belonging to such person, on any real property owned or leased by, or under the control of, such person, or on any public highway, to kill such dog or dogs, and it shall be the duty of the owner or keeper of any dog or dogs so found chasing, biting or injuring any domestic animal, including poultry, upon being notified of that fact by the owner of such domestic animals or poultry, to thereafter keep such dog or dogs in leash or confined upon the premises of the owner or keeper thereof, and in case any such owner or keeper of a dog or dogs shall fail or neglect to comply with the provisions of this section, it shall be lawful for the owner of such domestic animals or poultry to kill such dog or dogs found running at large."

This is the meat of the law.  See a dog even CHASING your stock, and you can kill it.  Of course, you have to be in the right place at the right time and ARMED.

I'm pretty sure this isn't the right place, however, as you'll likely get charged with endangement if you started shooting at a dog chasing one of these sheep, however.

This farm, btw, is set in Orting, on some of the best farming soil in the state of Washington.  Unfortunately, it's in high demand for housing, so many farms like this one, are now kinds of rural oasis in the middle of apartment complexes.

Anyway, my favorite part of this law is the second piece.  If you can find the damned owners and tell them their damned dog has been chasing your animals, AND they're too damned stupid to keep it penned up afterward, you can shot it anywhere you see if off leash off their property.

I'm so hoping my neighbors dog gets onto my property again and I can get a shot off.  :)

And here's the most interesting piece of the law


Marauding dog — Duty of owner to kill.

It shall be the duty of any person owning or keeping any dog or dogs which shall be found killing any domestic animal to kill such dog or dogs within forty-eight hours after being notified of that fact, and any person failing or neglecting to comply with the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and it shall be the duty of the sheriff or any deputy sheriff to kill any dog found running at large (after the first day of August of any year and before the first day of March in the following year) without a metal identification tag."

This one says, I tell you that your poochie has just killed my chickens, rabbits, sheep, whatever, and YOU get to kill your poochie within 48 hours or SOMEBODY's going to cite you with a misdemeanor.

Bet you dollars to dugouts that this law hasn't been enforce in over 50 years.

And the second half is better.  The Sheriff is REQUIRED to KILL any loose dog without a license.

Yeah, that happens all the time.(snort)

These are, actually, good laws, despite the fact that the first is nearly impossible to enforce, the second is difficult and the third is never enforced.

The biggest problems is, nobody knows them, least of all Animal Control.  If you call AC about a dog attacking your livestock, they absolutely WILL NOT advise the owner of the law.  You can forget that last law, they've never even heard of it, and they get rather annoyed when you start quoting the law to them, for some reason.

The Sheriff will, however, as he really is an officer of the law. This is why in states that explicitly allow you to shoot dogs worrying stock, Shoot, Shovel and Shut-up is the last thing you want to do.  You really want these idiots to know you have every legal right to kill their animals.  They'll be less likely to get new poochie to take it's place AND they'll bitch about you to the neighbors and maybe, just maybe, they'll be more careful with THEIR poochies.

Unfortunately, there's retaliation, and that's why you want THEM to call the Sheriff.

Walt's sage advise - give your neighbors a call sayin'  "You're going to want to call the Sheriff as I just shot your dog for attacking my livestock".  They can argue with HIM and get the law straight from the source.

So yes, my friends, if I had the money and the time, I'd protect my livestock like a Rhino in Africa, but I don't have either, most of us don't.

I do have a bit of a dream, however.  That dream is that the doggie licensing agencies would send out a brief "Know Your Legal Obligations as a Pet Owner" pamphlet with each and every license issued or renewed.  This would cover leash law, barking law, as well as biting and livestock laws.

Just a little dream, but a dream nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rural Dog Wars Part 4 - Dog in the Flock

Ever see a bait ball? 

If not, here's a picture for you:

This is the best illustration I can give you of what a bunch of sheep do when they experience a threat they cannot outrun.

Except, more two dimensional and a lot less underwater.

I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing this once, with sheep, not fish.

I was out working my herding dog at a local sheep farm.  We were in a 15-20 acre field with a half dozen sheep or so, when I noticed that the flock in the field next to us had suddenly bunched up, much like the picture above.

That's not normal.  Normally, that 100 head of ewes would spread out and grazing.

Nope, they were in a tight ball and what looked like a darker sheep was running around the outside of the ball, and occasionally diving into it.

That's when I realized that the dark sheep was a dog.

Well, no gun, no fast way into the field, I ran to the fence bellowing my lungs out.

Now, I'm big and I'm loud and I scare most things when I get going and this dog was a wiemeraner (no, I will not look that up) and not a more determined breed, so I got lucky.  Also lucky was the fact that a mile away on the other side of the field it's mistress was started calling the damned thing after I started bellowing how I as going to skin the fucking thing alive.

The whole attack didn't last that long but long enough for me to think "wish I had a gun". 

Followed by "no way in hell could I get a shot off without killing a sheep".

Anyway, this farm is owned by a full time farmer, but it was after her farmer's bedtime so I ran like crazy up to her house and pounded on the door until she got up. 

She grabbed her utility vehicle and I ran back down with my dog and we moved those sheep out of there.

There was fortunately only one casualty, and I got to assist while the farmer gave it a jab of penicillin and we glued its ear back on.  (Yes, superglue was invented for surgical purposes).

Looking back on this I know
- if I hadn't been there that night, the farmer would have lost one or more of her sheep as she was asleep in the house and couldn't have seen or heard anything.
- There's no way a gun would have helped that particular situation.  It was dusk and too far away for a good shot with a rifle, and to all the guys saying "I should have had a gun on me", it would have been a handgun at I was really out of range. Either way, couldn't have shot at all without a good chance of having to tell the farmer that I'd killed on of her sheep for her. 

Guns aren't some magic wand you wave and the doggie just dies.  You have to be in range.  You have to have a clear shot.  You have to have enough space between the dog and it's victim that you don't accidentally take out the victim. 

For every Mark or Walt story, I can tell you a dozen other laments of "if only I had a clean shot" or "If only I'd heard them (baa'ing, neigh-ing, running).

Yes, guns CAN be part of the solution, but we also need laws and we need them enforced.

I'll get to those in the next post.

Rural Dog Wars Part 3 - Shoot, and OMG, the owner IS the Sheriff

Now here's the story Walt tells me some time after he's got me convinced the thing to do is to Shoot the damned dog (if I'm lucky enough to get a shot) and then tell the owner to call the Sheriff himself (that is, if your laws are on your side for shooting the dog).

So, Walt's going down the road and he sees one of his neighbors trying to save that guy's llama from a couple of dogs.  Walt helps out, and then they track down the dogs to the owners.  They're new in the area, and the husband happens to be the new Deputy Sheriff.

Walt and his friend (politely) explain to the new Deputy Sheriff the situation.  The DS, says, well, they're my wife's dogs and I'll talk to her.

Sometime later, Walt gets a call from his friend sayin'  "can I borrow your tractor to bury something?"

Sure enough, the dogs got out again and went straight for the llama.

So, Walt and his friend, more than a little afraid of the law, bury the dogs.

A couple days later, the Deputy Sheriff stops by when Walt and his friend are working on a fence.

"Have you seen my dogs?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you now what happened to them?"

"Uh, yes, sir".



"I shot them.  They were going after my llama again."

"And I buried them."



"Okay.  I'll talk to my wife."

Now, I haven't seen Walt for awhile. I assume he didn't go to jail, but I'm also assuming he's not going to get any Christmas cards from his new neighbors any time in the near future.

Rural Dog Wars Part 2 - Shoot and Call the Sheriff

This story's from a guy I'll call Walt who does work for me on my place.

Walt is also near my age, and grew up on a farm in the county next door and has raised cattle all his life.

He now has about 100 acres and one thing he does to make money on that acreage is to buy day old, or so, dairy heifers from the dairies, and raise them until their old enough to breed and sells them back to the dairy farms.

You might wonder why dairies would sell their heifers only to buy them back a year or so later.

Well, raising a dairy calf is hard work, as momma's milk goes into the bottle or carton.  The baby gets sold and is bottle fed in a barn until it's big enough and strong enough to be weaned and put out on pasture.  The heifers are given time to grow, then bred and the dairies buy them back as close to milk production as they can.

So Walt's got a barn full of baby calves and one night there's a gawdawful ruckus out there.  He gets to the barn to find two Rotts high tailing it out of there.  He's left with a couple of dead calves, and some badly mangled ones.

Walt leaves his wife with the calves and takes off in his truck after them.  Fortunately, he knows where they're going, and catches up to them right before they head up their owners driveway and ...


Next morning, the neighbor pulls in and demands to know if Walt is the one who shot his dogs.

Walt says "yes" and the man starts off about the dog's price and the AKC papers and whaterverthefuck and Walt says, "you want to come into my barn and see what's left of my calves and we can let the lawyers decide who owes who what, and if you don't like it go call the sherriff."

The man storms off, and may or may not have called the sheriff, but never bothered Walt again, and never had anymore dogs go wandering off his property.

So, the moral of the story is:
Shoot, Fess up to it and Tell the Bastards to CALL THE SHERIFF if they don't like it.

Rural Dog Wars: Part 1 - The Dogs Kept Coming

It has been suggested to me, on numerous occasions, that we rural folk have it easy with dog control, because all we have to do is apply the three S's, Shoot, Shovel and Shut up, and we can solve our troubles, and if we dare complain about our dog issues, we haven't done our rural duty to Shoot, Shovel and Shut up.

If it only were that easy.

Firstly, not all states allow shooting of dogs attacking livestock, and if you get caught, you might have to pay a fine, or worse.  Please research your state laws before you take a rifle into your hands and start shooting at the neighbor's dog, especially when they might witness you doing it.
Second, well, it ain't as easy as it sounds, and it ain't as effective as you might think.  

I'm not going to ask you to judge my own situation, but to listen to a few stories I've collected in the past year or so, after I finally had it and started telling everyone I know that I was going to shoot the next goddamned stray dog I saw on my property.

So here goes, Part 1:
The Dogs Kept Coming OR I'm Living in a Dog Cemetary

 This story came to my by way of a man I'll call Mark, who is my age and grew up on the piece of property I now own.  I have to go back aways before the story starts and let you know that up until the mid '90's this part of the country was range land.   If you're unfamiliar with what "range" designation is, that means your can let your stock wander and graze wherever and if a wayward driver hits your horse or cow, they are liable for the replacement cost of your horse or cow (or goat, or sheep, or..)  

Point is, it was REALLY rural back when this young man was growing up. Most of the property around was owned by Weyerhauser, the timber giant and most houses were and are the first setttlements on the properties they occupy.

Way back then, we worried about cougar, bear or coyotes taking stock, and since they are normally afraid of people, that didn't happen much.

THEN, the neighbors to this piece of property obtained a variance to the rural zoning and put in a 20 unit mobile home court.

Sounds horrid, doesn't it?  Well, remember that timber giant stuff?  The trees are so thick here, you can't see a one of them, or hear anyone most of the time, BUT they all moved in with their doggies and let 'em run.


It was when Mark was about 15 when he discovered his Palomino being shredded in her own stall.  I got this story when I first looked at this place and asked, 'what the hell happened to that shed?'

The poor mare tried to bust her way out, but couldn't do it.  The shed's far enough from the house that it took awhile to wake folks and by the time they got out there the poor horse was really hurt.

Mark was mad enough that he started shooting every dog he saw on the property and burying it.

Between 15 and the time he left for college he told me he shot and buried 21 dogs, before he stopped counting. 

Twenty-one, and still they kept coming, until his family finally got the mobile home court OWNERS to enforce dog regulations on their own property, but that was a long and expensive legal battle over not only the dogs. 

So, my point is, SSS doesn't do a damned thing for you except to get rid of the immediate threat, and having a sharp shooter kid at home is a help.  Problem is, the idiot dog owners will just go out and get another dog and it will be on your property in no time.

There actually IS a better solution IF you can get a clean shot at the dogs AND the law is on your side.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Still Dumbfounded - So let's get real about "Punishing the Deed"

Kid dies; animal rights "activists" rush in to save the dog.


Woman gets mauled to death by dogs while taking her daily walk; that state's legislators rush to pass a laws to protect the doggies and the doggie owners.



So, here's my counter proposal. (Not lawyer speak, I know)

Your dog kills someone who is not committing a felony crime against your person, you get charged with manslaughter and the dog is euthanized. 

Your dog maims a person who is not committing a felony (loss of limb, use of hand, eye, causes facial disfigurement, all of which can effect future earnings potential), you get charged with a felony and are on the hook for all future medical bills.  The dog is euthanized.

Your dog unprovoked bites a person or severely bites and/or kills another's animal off your property, or a person or animal legally on your property, you're on the hook for all medical/vet bills and must better control your dog in the future.  If it happens again, you get charged with a felony and your dog is euthanized.

Am I missing anything?