Four pregnant ewes were killed by two dogs roaming a Methodist Road neighborhood on Jan. 17.
The two canines were shot during the attack by Loren Laney, the uncle of property owner Randy Paasch, who was visiting the family farm. The Airedale mix died instantly and the Spaniel mix ran away with a bullet wound to its neck. It was caught a short time later by Becky Hoffman, county animal control officer, and euthanized by a local veterinarian with permission from its owner.
Paasch said the dogs, owned by two neighbors, returned to the farm after killing his 15-year-old daughter's 4-H Pygmy goat "Joey" the day before.
"This is exactly why we have animal control," said Laney, who admitted it was difficult to kill the dogs but said their lethal actions left him with no other choice.
Hood River County Undersheriff Dwayne Troxel said there has been a recent increase in dog attacks on farm animals within the county. He said under Oregon state law, both citizens and livestock owners are allowed to shoot canines caught mauling stock animals or poultry. In addition, he said the victimized owners are given the right by state law to recoup double the market value of the slain livestock or any necessary vet care costs.
Paasch said the incidents on his property were traumatic for his four children but, to make matters worse, the sheep did not even belong to the family -- they were being pastured for a friend from Parkdale.
Hoffman said many dog owners do not realize that their pets are wolf descendants that are instilled with predatory instincts that can surface under certain circumstances.
"These were just every day household pets left to their own devices," said Hoffman.
In December a group of concerned citizens, led by Wy'East Road resident Joan Fowler, asked the Hood River County Commission to incorporate into its animal control laws a "recognition that dog owners in rural communities do not place severe restrictions on their pets."
But Troxel said unless the animals are kept leashed, fenced or under direct supervision, situations like the one at the Paasch family farm are bound to reoccur.
"Every dog owner risks having their pet meet the same fate if they don't keep them home or otherwise under control," said Troxel.
At 7 p.m. on Feb. 4 the county board will meet to review changes to its dog ordinance, including the addition of a state provision that requires legal complaints against a canine to be filed by a law enforcement official and not a citizen.