Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Doggone Loss

Yesterday was a hard one. Not made easier by my hyper-emotions I'm sure. I left the house around 2:15 pm to do a few errands locally. I ended up at my insurance office to get some Mary Kay stuff to a customer and let her sample some of the scented things. I had to wait an unusually long time, but that was fine, and eventually we were done there. I returned home at 4:00 p.m. to see some unfamiliar dogs standing over the body of one of my hens in the driveway. Argh! I was very unhappy! I blared the horn loudly as I got out; the dogs weren't afraid of me, nor were they threatening, but I hollered and yelled and chased (well, as much as I can "chase" right now) them from the yard. They headed thru the field and east towards town. They weren't in a terrible hurry, and I continued yelling at them to go... and then I continued screaming in anger and grief as I looked around. There were dead things everywhere. Hens left and right, turkeys dead on the lawn. The chicken wire on the henhouse and turkey pen torn from the structures. Poultry netting down, more carcasses there. Carcasses in the backyard. And feathers all over.

I am not usually the type like you see in the movies, dramatic women falling to their knees and screaming "nooo!!!" as the rain pours down, or whatever. And I didn't fall to my knees, and it wasn't raining, but I don't know when I've screamed and cried in such turmoil before. It's not like I lost a friend or family member, for heaven's sake, but you wouldn't have known it by looking. The kittens were accounted for, and Buni had been with us, but there were no other signs of life that I could see. I hurried back to the car and set out towards the neighbors to our north and east. Just what everyone wants; a very distraught, very pregnant woman pounding on their door. No wonder few people were home. I asked at a vet clinic, a construction site, and a couple residences. One of which had several dog kennels, some empty. I walked past them looking at the dogs while the homeowner walked towards me. "Are you missing a couple dogs?" I asked.
"Yeah, you find 'em?"
I couldn't speak for a moment, but I shook my head. "I'm missing about 25 chickens and 5 turkeys; everything I feed my family with."
From there he had 'just gotten home, what did the dogs look like, are any of these them (no), I had a couple dogs corner one-uh my horses, a pit bull and...' I don't mean to sound snobby or judgmental, but he struck me as a few eggs short of a dozen, let's say. The stereotypical "why we don't marry our cousins" type. That or he wanted to seem simple. I have no doubt if he is the owner of the marauding demons, that he's got them shut up in a shed for a while. His property is due east of my northern boundary, the closest thing that direction. I called the police, and a county deputy sheriff/animal control guy came and surveyed the destruction. It came down to 19 dead hens, 1 dead rooster, 2 very injured hens, 4 dead turkeys, 1 injured turkey (has since been euthanized), and one big ugly pile of dog poop in my lawn. Nothing eaten, nothing torn up or mutiliated. Just killed. I spent the evening taking pictures (I won't post them here), filling out a report and trying to figure our investment in them. Not easy when you just don't have every single feed store receipt. And wow, they're not cheap either. We spotted 2 hens emerging from the brush last night. They are very skittish and don't want anyone near them, but they seem in good health. That leaves 1 unaccounted for at this point. The injured hens may yet have to be put down. We found Aflac under the porch, and she's been there ever since.

I'm now trying to figure out what to do. Turkeys are not to be had this time of year, and if they were they'd die from freezing before they reached slaughter weight. No clean, safe holiday meals this year. We have lots of eggs on hand, but after they're gone, what do we do? I'm looking into finding some well-treated hens that I might buy. I won't be able to replace the entire flock, but enough to make us breakfast every now and then would be nice.

The other job is to find the owner of those dogs. When that is done, I can file some official complaint things, and they can have a chance to make restitution (which will not come close to the intangible losses, of course) or be charged in court. Option B is wait for the dogs' return, and restrain and/or shoot them. Either way works for me. I have a loaded .22 semi-auto rifle on hand. Truly, I would like to acquire a pair of night-vision goggles to patrol my perimeter and try to see if that suspicious neighbor is indeed the owner of the dogs. I'm going to work on that.

You'll know it's me if, late at night, you happen upon an 8-month-pregnant lady, with night vision, and armed...


Tanya said...

Poor animals. That makes me sad to here they died. Get those dogs!

Walter Jeffries said...

Over on my Sugar Mountain Farm blog on the Large Guard Dog Expectations post you asked about the chicken Kita saved from the hawk. Yes, it healed up. It was amazing. It might have done better with bacitracin or something but we just let it do its thing, but separated from other chickens. Sorry to hear of your losses. :(

Talitha said...

I feel for you and have had similar dog frustrations that have led me to become a she-demon to my neighbors. Check your local dog codes. Here in New York, among other remedies, the town pays for each bird killed and seeks reimbursement from the dog owner.

EllaJac said...

Talitha, We don't have that kind of city reimbursement. Without being too specific, I'll say we're considerably West of you, and the local (meaning "my property") dog codes mean I can shoot and kill the offending critters next time I see them here. Actually, that's quite legal. Even if they hadn't killed my chickens. We're still waiting for their return and/or to find them. We're not a big area, and I know the direction they went. And I am patient.