Farmers have an issue in common with small towns and large cities. Stray dogs running lose without proper supervision by their owners. In communities and countrysides all over the world people have come to blows with neighbors over stray dogs. This has been a problem as long as dogs have been domesticated.
As you read this article, bear in mind that not only do we have livestock, we have three dogs and two cats. We love our pets. But they are required to remain on property at all times and under our supervision at all times.
Dog owners who allow them to run loose are responsible for the actions of their dogs just the same as they are responsible for their children and in the same way employers are responsible for their employees. Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t care because they think the property damaged or the livestock and poultry killed will never be traced back to the dog owner.
Irresponsible dog owners also have a notion that “dogs should be dogs” and be allowed to run free. That is absolutely not true, and they don’t believe it themselves. How do we know this? Because you can bet they have house broken their dogs and taught them how to live within the human environment with acceptable behaviors in the family home. These owners simply don’t care about anyone else’s property or well being.
The overriding theme here is that these particular dog owners do not respect the property of others and believe they are immune to the law. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter where you live, you see this behavior in all places of the world.
For city dwellers, you have recourse of the law. It is illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits in almost every city in the country, except in the dire need of self-defense. Cities are slow to react to complaints about unsupervised dogs and do it in increments only after many steps by the property owner, or after serious injury or death of a person. Farmers, who live outside city limits are allowed to protect their property, family and livestock in the same manner. Farmers don’t have to wait for the dog to actually do anything to take preventative measures.
All too often we hear of a farmer trying to be “nice” and “agreeable” with their irresponsible dog owning neighbors when trying to settle the matter permanently. This is usually ineffective in most cases and allows a bad situation to get worse.
Think of it like this, the neighbor is doing wrong by allowing his dog to run loose onto your property to tear things up, dig holes for people and livestock to turn an ankle in or to have lawn mowers fall in, and then wander off to your cattle lot or chicken pen to see what’s for fun or dinner. Dogs will chase cattle until they die. The owner doesn’t care, but also bets that you will never shoot his dog for fear of possible repercussions. After all, he isn’t going to be the big mean person who shot a poor defenseless dog, as he tells this to every neighbor and the sheriff. You can see it now can’t you? Them all talking and shaking their heads to the shame of your senseless act?
Shooting an owner-less stray predatory dog is the absolute right thing to do because you can’t stop the dog yourself with out risking your own life or limb. Choosing to use anything less than a lethal attempt is ineffective. Using a B-B gun, pepper spray, rock salt, or paint balls only teaches the dog to check to see if the person who uses those things is on the property.
If the dog really wants what you have, he will watch and wait for you to leave and then go after it. Also, many dogs will tear up your fence, barn, or chicken coop to get inside. Don’t believe that? Think about what a male dog will do to get into an enclosure of a female in heat. A family member had a dog in heat, so while they were at work they put it in the closed garage. They came home to find their garage destroyed by male dogs trying to get to the female. Which they did, and she was no where to be found since she got away because the double car sized door was destroyed. How much more will it do to get a meal to survive or feed it’s puppies?
Next, you don’t know for sure if the dog on your property is a healthy neighbor’s dog or a wild dog that could be infected with any disease or parasite. Actually, you don’t really know if the neighbor’s dog is healthy because irresponsible dog owners may not practice good veterinarian care either. Using non-lethal force on a wild or sick dog might get you sick, injured or dead too.
Using pepper spray will cause the animal to salivate in great amounts. I would not want a rabid or otherwise sick dog salivating all over my property to spread his infection to my pets or any animal that might encounter it and then spread it to my livestock or me. Just because a dog doesn’t look sick does not mean it’s healthy.
Once a dog has found great entertainment or something yummy and exciting to eat, he will return, time and time again unless the dog owner takes action or the property owner does.
One way to prevent battles with neighbors over dogs is to send a certified letter to all neighbors notifying them that you have had trouble with a dog harassing or killing your livestock or poultry, or is menacing to your family, or damaging your property, and that you are going to use every legal means necessary to protect your investment, including killing the dog. For some reason, using economic terms gets their attention and they pay attention. Since they have signed for the certified mail they can not ever clam they did not know their dog was an issue.
This letter could also include a price list of your livestock should their dog damage or kill it. Reasonable prices would include money spent, time, and future loss of the animal and future products from that animal. So if the neighbor’s dogs run your prize milk cow to death, not only do they owe you for the vet bills and disposal of the animal, they also owe for the purchase price of the cow, and the loss of milk and calf production over the life of that cow. Why? Because now you have to start over investing time and money for a new milk cow and calves.
As you can see, the dollar amounts are now quite large. When the dollar amount is presented to the irresponsible dog owners, they are suddenly motivated to keep their dogs home. You can’t be where all of your livestock is all the time, but your security camera can. Having images captured by your high definition security camera of the dog in the act will go a long way towards getting them to settle out of court and persuade law enforcement officers, county commissioners, or city council members to enforce the law.