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Don't worry. Dogs worry, and they get shot. - Tactical Ninja

Feb. 27th, 2014

03:33 pm - Don't worry. Dogs worry, and they get shot.

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This morning I was going to tell you about my new haircut, and post pictures of that. Instead, I'm going to have a rant.

You see, I was walking to work when I got a text from the client I'd seen on Monday - her sheep had been worried by a dog in the night and she needed help to deal with the carnage. I informed work, grabbed the car, my shearing kit, a needle and some dental floss, and headed out there not really knowing what to expect. When I arrived, the sheep were in the yard - five of the lambs I'd shorn and crutched. Two were untouched, the other three in varying states of injury.


Warning - graphic pics below.

In a classic example of Kiwi understatement, when a dog 'worries' sheep it's not just making them a bit concerned, it's attacking them. I don't know where the saying comes from, but I grew up with it and I'm often surprised that not everyone knows this. So I got a funny look or two when I said I needed to go deal with some worried sheep. *ahem*

BTW, I make no apology for posting gory pictures here - people need to see this kind of thing because I find it drives home the message of how much damage an unsupervised dog can do to livestock far better than any admonishment. Your dog could do this too given the opportunity.

So, what does a worried sheep look like?

The first one was the one that had been shorn on Monday. She actually looked ok apart from the one large-ish wound on her left hip:



However, on cleaning it up and cutting wool away, we discovered a number of other small wounds lower down:



So we cleaned it up as best we could and called it good. I don't think this sheep is in any danger, apart from the fact that it's flystrike season and dog bites tend to get infected. However, the vet was going to be coming out later and could administer antibiotics and other treatments - and hopefully some flypel.

The next sheep had a lot of blood in one flank, but we couldn't see the wound causing it because of her wool. The fear with wounds in this area is that they might have penetrated into the gut cavity.



However, nothing was showing and cleaning it up revealed mostly superficial wounds:



She had five like this in the flank area. The one in the centre of this pic was right in the flank and quite deep - it looked as though the dog had grabbed and punctured the skin with its canines, then gone for a better grip but she'd pulled away and managed to escape, tearing the skin but otherwise undamaged. The flank wound might need a stitch or two and a drain put in, but again, lucky sheep.

The third one had been sitting down and didn't move when I got there. She was unable to use her right hind leg, and the fear was that it was broken. Luckily, it wasn't - but this one had been chewed on quite a bit. Literally. It looked like the dog had got hold of the leg and given it a good hard shake, leaving two deep puncture wounds each side of the leg, and a number of other less deep scrapes and tears. There was bloodstained fluid weeping out of both of the main wounds, and one had a small piece of what looked like tendon coming out of it.





Consequently, the entire gaskin muscle and stifle joint were very swollen, and the sheep was in shock. She seemed to perk up a bit after our ministrations, but she needed veterinary attention.

Just a note here: I'm willing and able to stitch up sheep in desperate circumstances, to prevent them dying or if there's no chance of professional help. But in most situations I much prefer to leave this job for the vet. Vets have the right gear, have been taught correct technique, and have access to drugs that I don't for keeping the job clean and giving the animal a better chance while minimising its pain.

These sheep were expecting to see a vet within a few hours, and were not in immediate danger from their wounds, so we cut the wool away as much as possible and cleaned them up, and put them in a shady paddock where they could be relatively undisturbed until the vet arrived. All but the last one were eating. No 3 I'm a bit worried about because of the shock, but since we were concerned to start with that we'd have to euthanise her, I think she had a lucky break to be honest. Here is a picture of her lying with her head in my lap while she waited to be let up.



Meanwhile, the dog control officer turned up while we were doing this with a dog in the back of her truck that'd been apprehended. My client was able to identify the dog with 95% surety as the one she'd seen last night. It's hard to prove a dog has worried sheep without someone catching it in the act, however there have been, I think I heard, 13 reported incidents in the last week of dog worrying in the area, and 5 sheep killed with others injured.

So I'd suggest that if the worrying suddenly stops now this dog's in jail, it's pretty compelling circumstantial evidence, along with my client finding a dog that matches this one's description 'on high alert' in the paddock next to where her lambs were worried, 5 minutes after it happened.

If it can be proven, the dog will be euthanised. Unfortunately there's not a lot of hope for dogs that worry sheep - let's face it, they are hunters, and even the mildest family pet, once it gets an idea of how exciting chasing and killing livestock really is, will do it again given the opportunity.

It's possible to keep a sheep worrier alive, but you can never EVER let it out of your sight. And this one's owner clearly isn't too worried about letting their dog loose in the middle of the night, night after night after night, and doesn't seem concerned about what it's getting up to.


I probably don't need to say this to the readership of this blog, but after dealing with all that this morning I'm going to say it anyway: KEEP YOUR BLOODY DOG LOCKED UP AT NIGHT. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG UNSUPERVISED. EVER. Little Foo-Foo may be gentle as all getout with your wee toddler and it might be cute when she 'plays' with other animals, but make no mistake, she is a killer by nature and given the right set of circumstances, will do the same kind of damage to sheep that you see in those photos. Even small dogs can kill sheep.

Sheepdogs are the worst. They've been bred to want to chase sheep. Even my beloved First, who was my mate for 12 years and a pretty handy heading dog into the bargain, could not be trusted with sheep unsupervised. She would eventually worry them, so I never gave her the chance. And that's the only way to be sure.

Never.Give.Them.The.Chance. EVER.

*sigh* Fact is, the vast majority of people already know this. There are hundreds of dogs in the area where this happened. But it only took one fucking irresponsible arsehole to create carnage among the local sheep and cause the death of what is probably a really nice dog. I don't blame the dog, it was just being a dog. The owner, however, is lucky that they live in town. In the country there'd be no due process, the dog would have been shot already, probably in front of them, with no compunction. And it would be entirely their fault. As it is they'll lose their dog and probably a bunch of compensation money for the dead and injured sheep. And it's all so bloody unnecessary.

Fuckit.

Comments:

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From:fbhjr
Date:February 27th, 2014 02:55 am (UTC)
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I hope the sheep heal well.
Too bad about the dog. I agree that it is the owner's fault. Too bad the dog suffers for it.
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From:dragonvyxn
Date:February 27th, 2014 04:15 am (UTC)
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that's ridiculous. shitty dog owners piss me off so much. not the fault of the dog, dogs are dogs... fucking stupid people.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:47 pm (UTC)
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I am constantly astounded by the stupidity of people when it comes to their carnivorous pets.
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From:ecosopher
Date:February 27th, 2014 05:59 am (UTC)
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I can't look at the photos, so please just tell me if the sheep will be OK?

I don't trust dogs ever. I mean, I love them but I won't even let them just play with my children in the backyard unsupervised. Too risky.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:35 pm (UTC)
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Yes, they will be ok. They got veterinary attention yesterday afternoon and last night's report said they were doing fine.
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From:adnama_wpg
Date:March 1st, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
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yay!
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 27th, 2014 06:20 am (UTC)
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One day we found our flock all alert and up on their toes except for the two oldest and slowest (both old friends) who were dead. It was worse than your photos. We were pretty sure whose dog it was, as there had been suspicions among the neighbours before. So I rang the owner, who admitted that it must have been his dog; he had thought sheep-worrying only happened at night so had been letting it loose in the daytime.

He asked if he could compensate us. I said no thanks but could he please help my husband to bury them (they were halfway up a long steep hill). So he did, and rang up later very distressed. He had had no idea how bad it could be. The dog was gone by the next day. (He told his kids it went to a new home but I don't think so.) It was a lovely dog. Such a shame for everyone.

Mary
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:37 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I get the impression this dog didn't really have much clue about hunting - it seemed to have been chasing and nipping at back ends rather than heading and doing real damage. Like you, I've seen way worse.

From what I understand, this dog owner may not be as mortified or concerned as your neighbour, but I still think it's a shame when a dog has to die because of people's stupidity.
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From:pombagira
Date:February 27th, 2014 06:21 am (UTC)
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From:spotsofcolour
Date:February 27th, 2014 10:54 am (UTC)
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Holy shit. I thought it was only basic common sense that you did not let dogs loose near livestock. Bloody hell. I hope the sheep are okay, that is ridiculous!

We were very lucky that my dog growing up was useless. He liked to chase things, but never wanted to catch them. In one memorable incident he chased a rabbit, until it stopped in fear and just froze. And then he stopped, and looked at it blankly. He barked at it a couple of times and wagged his tail, and then looked at us like "What's it doing? This isn't supposed to happen". But even then we always always made sure he was on a lead if we had to go near livestock. Even if he didn't attack, the fright of that great ball of lard bounding after then wouldn't have done them any good! And god, my neighbour's dog was the same breed (labrador) and she was wet as anything at home, but was a stone cold killer if she got hold of something, so we kept an even tighter hold on her.

I'm honestly surprised the dog wasn't shot - that's the way it works in the UK. If a dog is caught upsetting livestock, the farmer shoots it. When you said it had been caught I thought for sure they would be putting it down. What happens to dogs like that which have been confiscated from their owners in this situation, but not put down?
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:February 27th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
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My dog, useless hunter that a boxer is, loved to chase vows. That is, she would run up to the fence and bark one loud bark and the cows would take off for a few hops. Since the fence was electric, that was it.

One day she did that, and instead of cows they had young bulls on the meadow. Those "cows" didn't run away but turned and charged. You should have seen my dog sprint *lol* It ended on the same fence because the bulls were smart enough not to touch the wire as well but that was SO much fun to watch.

Over here, dogs must have collars and tags. Any found without go to the pound. Since respectable owners pay taxes for their dogs, they usually keep them controlled and in the house or (less desirable) on a chain or in a fenced yard. Letting your dog out at night without actually walking them is next to unknown.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:42 pm (UTC)
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My ex partner had a boxer that worried sheep. He was definitely not a useless hunter! He ended up being moved to a town home where there was no chance of him ever encountering sheep, and was never left unsupervised again.

And yes, NZ has similar laws about registration of dogs - but like you say, it's only the honest folks that do it, and animal control can't catch everyone who doesn't. And while dogs are supposed to wear their tags at all times, lots of people don't want a collar on their dog constantly so let them out without. It's the ones that aren't watched that become a problem..
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:58 pm (UTC)
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True, our male boxer was a little more fierce and loved to chase doves. But still, the only contact they ever had to hunting was deer in the woods and none of them ever had a chance to catch anything. Compared to the cat who came back with fully grown rabbits, both dogs sucked big time :-) Not that that's a bad thing. It's great to be able to let a dog run in the woods for a while, knowing full well they come at a whistle and won't catch anything anyway.

Livestock is a different matter. They are bred and trained not to run from us, so they are much easier to catch.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:38 pm (UTC)
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This is a semi-urban area, and not a lot of people would have a gun. Certainly my client doesn't, and so calling animal control is the best way for people around here to deal with it.

But yeah, if it were a truly rural area the story would have ended very differently.
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From:goddessofchaos
Date:February 27th, 2014 11:57 am (UTC)
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People are way too complacent about dogs in general, in my opinion. All dogs have the potential to do serious damage to people or other animals. There has been a spate of young children being killed or maimed by dogs here in the UK lately. People are way too trusting of their pets... they seem to forget they are animals which don't like like humans and may be triggered into violence in ways we don't understand. (Although the fact that dogs will chase sheep should seem obvious... clearly some people are too stupid to even get that.)
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:42 pm (UTC)
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You'd think, right? But people will anthropomorphise anything given half a chance. O.o
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:February 27th, 2014 01:31 pm (UTC)
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Oh dear, I'm sorry for your sheep! I was going to ask if you have a lot of feral dogs there, but from what you write it's perfectly house-trained dogs that are let go at night? WTF? I guess that's rural for you. Sometimes I like being in an overpopulated country where people just don't let their dogs run wild.

And it's one thing if you have a bunch of feral dogs or a wolf chase live stock, kill it, and eat it. It's in their nature and they aren't to blame for the fact that we provide tamed prey for them. Dogs who are well fed and do this for entertainment is just a shame.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:43 pm (UTC)
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We don't have feral dogs as such, although there is the occasional report of the odd one - usually a pig dog that's been lost and started hunting for itself or the like. It's rare though. But you're right, sheep worriers are generally pet dogs that people think they can trust.
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From:pundigrion
Date:February 27th, 2014 03:03 pm (UTC)
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Domestic dogs and worse packs of dogs were one of our biggest sheep problems. Lots of people where I am from just let them run around their property, thinking they are well behaved enough not to run off...

Then people blame coyotes for the injuries/kills even though 9/10 it will have been a dog. Dogs are much worse IMO because they don't have the fear that a wild coyote has and they tend to be well fed, so they often are doing it for fun and cause worse injuries. The coyotes at least normally just killed the animal outright and you'd find it half eaten instead of terrified and covered with painful and probably soon to be infected gaping wounds.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:46 pm (UTC)
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Yeah. I shudder to think about the number of sheep I've dealt with that have been left injured by dogs that are just in a chasing/biting frenzy but not actually killing or eating them.

The owner of these sheep was a pioneer of Siberian Husky breeding in NZ. She still has dogproof runs on her property (because she's smart and didn't trust her dogs), which are now paddocks. She's been able to put the sheep in there while the case is sorted, just in case they do have the wrong dog at least she knows her sheep are proteced.
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From:meri_sielu
Date:February 27th, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
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Those wounds are awful, the fault lies entirely with the irresponsible owner who let this happen. Poor sheep and the dog may ultimately have to pay the price. :(
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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2014 07:46 pm (UTC)
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Yeah. Probably a really nice dog too.
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From:adnama_wpg
Date:March 1st, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
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This is so sad.
I'm glad the sheep are going to be ok.
I don't understand ANY dog being unsupervised with or without livestock near by. So many dangers out there. :(

Also, I learned a lot by this post. I thought "worry" just meant they were worried... I'm city through and through!
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