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Stray dogs prey on LR animals

After deadly attacks at zoo, gardens, pet owners frightened by Claudia Lauer, Evie Blad | October 14, 2012 at 3:49 a.m.

— Roving dogs have Little Rock pet and livestock owners nervous for the safety of their animals.

One duo — described as a pit bull and a pit bull and terrier mix — killed four goats and a sheep, and injured several other animals Wednesday night at the children’s farm exhibit at the Little Rock Zoo.

Two dogs also killed livestock Oct. 3 at the Dunbar Community Garden and at the Victory Garden Project at 707 S. Valentine St. on Tuesday.

Several downtown residents, in the Governor’s Mansion District and in Stifft Station have said they also found their pets mauled to death by what veterinarians said were large dogs. None of the pet owners saw the animals responsible for the deaths.

“This is a school, and that is really freaking us out,” said Damian Thompson, program coordinator for the Dunbar Community Garden. “The dogs were here while the kids were waiting to go to school. That’s scary.

“We’ve been trying to explain to the kids that this isn’t the animals’ fault, that it’s really the pet owner’s fault for not feeding them and not making sure they’re not roaming around,” Thompson said.

Tracy Roark, director of Little Rock’s Animal Services Department, said he doubts the three attacks were committed by the same dogs.

“We’ve picked up 60 animals in the last three days alone,” he said. “There are a ton of stray animals in this city. And, although all three instances were described as a pair of dogs, the descriptions were different in the zoo instance and in the Dunbar instance.”

Roark said several animalcontrol officers were at the zoo Thursday and Friday because of a second sighting of the dogs. He said the officers chased the dogs through War Memorial Golf Course but lost them when they went through a small hole and crossed over Interstate 630.

“We set traps in a few places near that area, and if they come back through that hole, they’ll get caught,” he said. “It seemed to me they lived south of 630 because they knew exactly where that hole was.”

Animal-control officers also set traps around Dunbar after several of the garden’s animals were killed. Roark said they caught three stray dogs, but none of them matched the descriptions of the dogs that killed the animals the day before.

Regarding the most recent killings at the zoo, officials said zoo workers arrived Thursday morning to find the two dogs in the farm exhibit. The workers chased them, but the dogs escaped through a hole they had dug in the fence near a drainage pipe.

Four goats and a sheep were killed. The other animals injured in the attack are being cared for by the zoo’s veterinarian, a zoo spokesman said. The fence had been repaired and reinforced by Thursday afternoon.

Thompson said the scene at Dunbar Community Garden was similar. He said another staff member arrived early in the morning and found two dogs in the midst of eating the garden’s two 2-year-old goats named Kid and Play.

“He picked up a stick and tried to get them off, and he said at that point they ran through this hole in the fence that they had made,” Thompson said. “It’s been really brutal. I raised those goats, and the kids interacted with these animals daily.”

A new rooster at the garden also was found to have been killed, as well as the garden’s rabbit, Mr. Snowflakes.

At the Victory Gardens Project on Valentine Street, garden coordinator Ryan Boswell said that Wednesday morning he found the carnage left by two dogs. A neighbor saw the dogs enter the garden and heard a ruckus with the livestock late Tuesday.

Boswell said he lost six chickens, four ducks and two rabbits in the attack, leaving him with just three birds.

“This is the first time a wild dog has attacked the flock,” he said. “It’s a risk you run when you have livestock. I mean, there are predators out there. But to lose so many animals at once ... and if it is the same dogs, they’ve covered so much ground.”

Pet owners on several neighborhood Internet message boards also have speculated that the dogs might be involved in a rash of pet maulings and deaths over the past year or so.

Kathy Wells, president of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods, said she was called a few weeks ago by a neighbor who had found what was believed to be the mauled remains of Wells’ cat in the neighbor’s backyard. Wells said she took the animal, which was the same color and size as her cat, to her veterinarian to have it cremated.

The veterinarian measured the bite marks and puncture wounds on the cat and told Wells that the animal had been killed by a large dog. He said many other city predators would not have had that large a bite span.

Wells said her cat returned home that night, and she later found the owner of the animal that had been killed.

“Just imagine, this happened in a gravel backyard with a fence and that cat had no time to use its natural reflexes to run away,” Wells said. “Now imagine if that had been a family out there. If a mother was watching her toddler or baby play in the yard and walked away or couldn’t get there fast enough ... and those dogs got in. It’s a really frightening thought.”

Roark said animal control reminds people regularly not to approach stray animals and to call 311 to report strays or dial 911 if the animals seem dangerous.

“It’s super important that people remember not all of these animals are missing pets, and not all of them are friendly,” Roark said.

Arkansas, Pages 13 on 10/14/2012

Print Headline: Stray dogs prey on LR animals

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