Tuesday, March 12, 2013
RIP Bella Donna
I went to check on the goats. One of the dogs, I'm assuming the black one, had bit Nessie on the right back leg. Nessie was limping a little bit, but seemed ok otherwise. Bella was on the ground and couldn't get up. Hubby had woken up to the sound of dogs barking close to the house. Both of our dogs were inside. When he looked out the back door, he saw both dogs standing over Bella, barking. They had already taken her down at that point and may have killed her if Nessie hadn't run by and distracted them into chasing her. Hubby went back inside to get dressed and grab his gun. Hubby said Nessie was screaming and running for all she was worth around the horse paddock while the black dog chased her. Bella had bites on all four legs. The back legs had the most damage. She was dripping blood from a few different punctures. I called the vet's emergency number and left a message. He called back right away, but he was on another emergency call and couldn't get to us for another hour. I took my first aid kit to the goat paddock and cleaned up Bella's wounds while we waited. Hubby and I were able to get her to her feet so I could hose down her legs and examine her. None of the bites looked very deep. I put iodine on the bites I could find.
An Animal Control officer came and took away the red dog. Unfortunately, since we weren't able to catch the black dog on our property, Animal Control couldn't seize him too. We told her what happened and she gave Hubby an affidavit to fill out and told me to take pictures. We told her where the dog's owners lived and she drove up there to get the address, then she went back to her office.
Now, a little background on these two dogs. First of all, I live on a dead end road in the woods. You think news travels fast in a small town, nothing gets past nosy neighbors on a dead end road. I know every vehicle that belongs on this road and which house it belongs to. So, it wasn't difficult to figure out that we had new neighbors. They moved in around the first of the month. "Something" got a hold of my neighbor's Chihuahua the night of Feb. 24. The neighbors heard their dog screaming out in the woods and ran to rescue him. Whatever it was dropped the Chihuahua and took off. The little dog ran up to the house shaking and covered in slobber. At the time, we assumed it was coyotes, but coyotes aren't likely to drop their prey and take off. They'll run off with their prey. Then, the morning of March 6, the red and black dogs were both in my neighbor's front yard, trying to fight with her big dogs. They chased the dogs home and warned the new neighbors that their dogs were out and trying to fight. Saturday was March 9. They had come through my fence, looking for trouble. I think they left the miniature horses alone because they were in with the big horses. The chickens were still locked up. That just left my poor goats.
The vet gave both goats penicillin, banamine (for pain) and tetanus shots. He also gave me some ointment to put on the bites to help them heal and keep out infection. He left instructions, I paid the bill and he went off on the next emergency call. I made copies of the vet bill and we headed to the new neighbors' house.
Unfortunately, the parents weren't home. Two teenage boys and two dogs (including the black one who took part in the attack) met us at the gate. I told them that two of their dogs, including the black one, had attacked my goats and almost killed one of them and they needed to pay the vet bill. I told them that we had caught one of the dogs and it was now at Animal Control. You know that look you get when someone says they're sorry with their mouths, but look like they're laughing with their eyes. That's what I got in return. Same thing when the one boy told the black dog he was a bad dog. I wanted to make them care. I NEEDED to make them care. I told them I'd shoot the black dog if I saw it on my property again. I was told that their dad doesn't care if the dogs get shot. That just made me feel bad for the dogs and angrier at the humans. If you care that little about your dogs, then find them a home with someone who does care. The boys told me there are holes in the fence and they need to do something about it. Ya think!?! I told them it needs to be fixed this weekend. They told me this is why they don't like living around people. I knew I wasn't getting anywhere with these boys, so we left our number with them and told them to have their parents call us when they get home.
Prey animals aren't meant to lay down for long periods of time. Their bodies are designed to be always on the go. Their circulatory system depends upon that movement. If a prey animal lays down and can't get up, it's almost certain to be killed by a predator. They will do everything in their power to stay on their feet. Once they get to the point where they can't get up, it's a sign of a very serious health issue. In all of my years working with cows, sheep and horses, I can't think of very many cases that made a full recovery once the animal went down.
So when I went out the back door this morning to feed, I hesitated a little bit before I looked over at the goat paddock. I wanted to see Bella feeling better, standing even. I wanted the vet to be right, that she was just in a lot of pain, but would still make a full recovery. Instead, I saw her stretched out on the ground, in the same spot she had been the night before. I walked over, hoping she was just laying her head down. When I got there, her eyes were open in the blank stare of death. Her body was stiff and cold. She was gone and there was nothing I could do. I had done everything right, followed the vet's instructions to the letter. I had nursed and cared for her for four days. She had suffered in excruciating pain for four days. And all because irresponsible dog owners who knowingly own aggressive dogs can't be bothered to keep them contained.
Hubby did talk to the dog owners Saturday afternoon. They had known aggression issues with the red one who went to Animal Control. They said they were going to try to place him with a rescue that weekend. As it stands now, they're going to leave him at Animal Control and let them deal with him. They get to keep the black dog. I plan to keep my promise to shoot him next time I see him on my property. They have agreed to pay the vet bill. I'm also going to make sure they pay to replace Bella. She was more than a pet. She was part of our homesteading plan. I was already looking for a buck to breed to her and Nessie so I could get fresh milk from them and sell the babies to cover our expenses. Quality breeding does are expensive and difficult to come by.