Beloved pet sheep at Dilworth Loop farm is put down after a vicious dog attack
By LESLIE BROWN
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Editor
February 24, 2010 · Updated 8:51 AM
One of Annie Miksch’s sheep at her Dilworth Loop farm was euthanized after a dog slipped into her barn and attacked it earlier this month, raising concerns among Miksch and her neighbors about the safety of other livestock in their north-end neighborhood.
Miksch said the ewe, a beloved animal named Lola, had to be put down after Dr. Alan Givotovsky, a veterinarian from Fair Isle Animal Clinic, made an emergency call to her home and said the sheep didn’t have a chance. The sheep, she said, was “a pet. This is an animal who’d come right up to you.”
Miksch had owned Lola for eight years.
The incident occurred around 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, when Miksch’s own dog began making noises. Miksch went outside to investigate and heard “a blood-curdling scream — it sounded almost human,” she said.
When she got to her barn, she saw a dog that looked like a Siberian husky attacking Lola, while her other sheep was stamping its feet and running around frantically, she said. Her two goats were standing on top of their manger, “shaking violently,” she added.
Miksch used a pitchfork to drive the dog away. A former dog trainer, she said she’s tuned into dog behavior and could see the level of aggressiveness in the dog.
“The dog started circling me; I thought it was going to go after me,” she said.
The event underscored ongoing concerns about the fact that some Island dog-owners continue to let their dogs run loose, even though that’s against the law in unincorporated King County.
Givotovsky said such dog-owners are making a grave mistake, because every dog — even ones that act remarkably friendly and easy-going when with their owners — has a strong predatory streak and could attack and kill livestock.
“It’s a behavior that’s innate in a lot of dogs,” Givotovsky said. “People often deny that their dogs exhibit any kind of predatory behavior. And that’s erroneous. Every dog has that ability.”
The Island experienced a spate of livestock attacks by dogs a couple of years ago; vets at Fair Isle report they’d seen few serious attacks recently until the one at Miksch’s home.
But several Islanders have reported that their chickens have been attacked by dogs. And a dog recently attacked another dog on Cove Road, an incident that resulted in serious injuries.
Givotovsky said he urged Miksch to put the word out about the attack. “If a dog’s done it once, we know it can do it again,” he said.
Miksch said the dog wore a collar with a red tag on it and looked healthy and well-fed.
The dog apparently got into the barn by getting through a stock gate, something she didn’t think a dog could do. She has since installed a better gate, she said.
“I’ve lived here 30 years and I’ve never had a dog get onto my property,” she said.
The Island has changed, she said, since her earliest days here, when people knew better than to let their dogs run loose; such an animal could be shot if it wound up on a neighbor’s property.
“I think there is an unfortunate feeling among some people: ‘I’m in the country; I can let my dog run loose.’ I see dogs along the highway off of leashes. If you love your animal, you don’t want to take that risk,” she said.Contact Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Editor Leslie Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-206-463-9195.