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Sheep attacked by dogs

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By Brad Bowman

A pack of dogs attacked a Henry County couple’s sheep herd May 4, killing seven.

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Adriana Plum received a call from her husband Saturday after he witnessed a pack of dogs attack sheep near their home and farm on Jackson Road. Plum said the dogs traveled in a pack frequenting an open field near their farm.

“They came during the day and attacked them so we know they weren’t coyotes,” Plum said. “These dogs weren’t hungry. They ate the ears off of one of our sheep and they came back Sunday. Three of them were so severely injured my husband had to shoot them.”

Plum trains her Australian shepherds for competition in herding and agility contests. According to Plum, while her dogs were away and out of the yard the pack moved in unchallenged.

“We don’t know whether the dogs are strays or belong to someone,” Plum said. “We sent our dogs after them Sunday and he held one of the dogs until we were able to put it down. We could hear the other dogs barking in the distance, but they got away.”

Plum said the couple keep the sheep for grazing and one ram that was attacked lost its ear tag. 

“They stayed huddled together in one corner of the field in shock after the attack,” Plum said. “We have a sheep that looks like it will make it but it stays close to the house now.”

Plum said she didn’t think the dogs attacked out of hunger, but chased the herd as a way of playing and killed them.

“We had a mother who stood to protect her babies,” Plum said. “Her ears had been eaten off and she had just two holes left where her ears were.”

Dan Flinkfelt, Henry County Animal Control Officer, set two traps in case the pack returned.

“We haven’t gotten anything yet,” Flinkfelt said. “I have only run across four or five packs in the last six years I’ve been in the county, and most are in the rural areas. I’ve seen a pack on Lecompte Bottom Road and in the eastern part of the county.”

Flinkfelt said a pack isn’t common but most likely results from irresponsible owner ship.

“People let their dogs out during the day and they don’t know what their dog has been doing while it was away,” Flinkfelt said. “It could be chasing livestock, attacking livestock and not doing it as a source for food but uses them as play toys.”

Flinkfelt said dog owners have dogs that go off into fields and have puppies that aren’t found or will mate with coyote, which makes feral dogs harder to control.

“I don’t think it was someone’s owned pet but more of a wandering pack,” Flinkfelt said. “It’s a sad thing that this happened. People can resolve issues like this by keeping their pets on their property and respecting their neighbors. Keeping their pet confined doesn’t mean a dog has to stay tied to a tree or kept in a pen.”

Flinkfelt emphasized that microchipping dogs helps the Henry and Trimble County Animal Shelter return dogs to their owners and prevents similar situations.

“About 25 percent of the animal population is chipped from a shelter,” Flinkfelt said. “The other 75 percent come from people giving away free puppies or purchasing them from breeders that aren’t chipped or they buy them at a Walmart parking lot and those animals aren’t spayed or neutered.”

Flinkfelt and Plum both caution pet owners from letting their animals roam free.

“We had two dogs cross the road in Trimble County and cause an accident,” Flinkfelt said. “Hopefully these dogs stay away from Mrs. Plum’s livestock. This wouldn’t happen if people were more responsible.”

Plum emphasized the need for owners to be more accountable.

“I am constantly looking for holes in our fence for the dogs to come through,” Plum said. “I don’t want to put my sheep out in a pasture where they will be attacked again. People need to keep their dogs on their property. It can get hit in the road, mate with other dogs or join up with other dogs in a pack.”