A dog killed 9 of my chickens...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ChickenGoesRuff, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. ChickenGoesRuff

    ChickenGoesRuff Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 8, 2015
    I really don't know where to post this, but here seems applicable. On Jan. 23, a dog got into my yard and killed 9 of my chickens, including my Iowa Blues and the birds I'd been raising for fair. We have 3 security cameras, a result of a different dog attack last year. We scrubbed through nearly 8 hours of footage and finally found the culprit, (different dog than last attack) which belongs to a family that moved in 2 years ago, although we haven't really connected or talked prior to this. Their dog is a German shorthair pointer, I think, but it's definitely a birding dog breed (I'm iffy on specific dog breeds, not so much chicken breeds).
    Anyway, the last time a dog attacked, we immediately confronted the owner of that dog and made a quick summary bill. Of course, the next day, they had a nearly court-worthy letter claiming their dog was afraid of cats, and although yes, was in our yard, couldn't have killed 13 chickens..... So on this bill, I went full-out everything I wanted them to know. I would've added the pictures of the aftermath, but it got a bit gruesome, even for me. So I'm just going to add it below, sorta just to rant, and also because I'm really sad, but also P.O.-ed that they couldn't keep their dog in their yard. I found 3 bodies, the rest are probably hidden in the woods, and one of my favorite hens has a broken leg I attempted to splint. We don't have a poultry vet in our area, so my mother the nurse, and myself, the resident chicken expert, did our best. Apologies for any offenses taken, or anyone who silently thinks, "the world is already so negative, why rant?", but I started typing and went with it. Here's the letter we're going to give them tomorrow, along with a flash drive of footage of their dog (too large of file to add here) entering, chasing/killing chickens, and leaving yard.

    My name is Abby Ruff. I am a high school senior involved in 4H, and I also maintain a small breeding flock of Iowa Blues and some pet/show chickens. Last year, my 4 pens of high-quality birds placed with one blue ribbon, 2 reserve champion ribbons, champion trophy and ribbon, and showmanship reserve champion with belt buckle.
    Our security cameras caught your dog in the act of killing, chasing, and maiming my chickens on the morning of 1-23-17. I have raised chickens for 4 years with only one other incident of a dog killing my birds. I own and try to breed rare chickens, such as the Iowa Blue, which has faced extinction twice in the last 60 years, and is pretty rare.
    Of the 9 that went missing, I found three chicken carcasses, all of them my rare Iowa Blues. One was my favorite rooster, Butch, who was not only one of my breeding stock, but also my friendliest and considered a family pet. Iowa Blues are shown to be a selfless bird, often trying to fight back at predators, or even give their lives to allow other birds to flee. The trail of feathers, body with only a broken neck and having been undisturbed since his death, plus the evidence we have on camera, shows that my rooster died protecting my flock, something awful that didn’t need to happen had your dog been properly contained.
    The other 2 found casualties included a young silver cockerel, Admiral, who was going to be shown at fair and was very high quality to the standard, and one of my best-laying breeder hens, Sweetie, who had her head ripped from her body.
    Your dog also severely injured another one of my Iowa Blue hens, Barbie. Not only were her tail and wing feathers frayed and ragged, but all the feathers on the back of her head had been ripped out. Her left leg had also been clearly broken, and she is unable to walk. I had to splint her leg myself, as there are no chicken veterinarians in the area and even minor medical issues cost a fortune. Since a broken leg is often a fatal injury in the long run, I have also had to consider euthanizing Barbie, and about the best way to kill another one of my beloved pets so she doesn’t suffer.

    351.27. Right to kill tagged dog
    It shall be lawful for any person to kill a dog, wearing a collar with a rabies vaccination tag attached, when the dog is caught in the act of chasing, maiming, or killing any domestic animal or fowl, or when such dog is attacking or attempting to bite a person.
    351.28. Liability for damages

    The owner of a dog shall be liable to an injured party for all damages done by the dog, when the dog is caught in the action of worrying, maiming, or killing a domestic animal, or the dog is attacking or attempting to bite a person, except when the party damaged is doing an unlawful act, directly contributing to the injury. ”

    By law, you are responsible for the dog’s actions. If your dog attempts to enter our yard again, or tries to even go near the chickens (worrying them), we have the right to shoot it or contain it and then have it put down. I have a dog, and I know that having to kill someone else’s pet would be horrible. But these chickens are my pets, and no one should ever come home to find their beloved pets dead, mangled, toyed with, or stressed. I’m 17, and would prefer to not find the animals that I’ve raised and worked hard for, (I got a part time job the day after I turned 16 at minimum wage, just so I can try to afford my chickens and their expenses), left dead and cast aside because someone couldn’t control an animal that they, like me, vowed to care and take responsibility for. Having to search my yard for the carcasses of my pets in the dark when I got home from school and work, and then having to pick up my bloody, stiff, pets to find a place to dispose of them properly. Even afterwards, there are piles and piles of feathers from where your dog viciously attacked my chickens.
    Aside from the sickening task of picking up my dead pets, several of my chickens are still unaccounted for, and I have to worry that if they aren’t already dead or injured, if they stay outside, especially at night without protection and warmth, they will die from dehydration, nocturnal predation, or frostbite. By 1-25-17, none of them had returned, meaning they were probably killed and hidden, or gravely injured by your dog and died after they tried to hide.
    Your dog also chased and scared the chickens to the point where the window on the coop door was broken. I have to replace the door, or at least the window to my coop, a costly measure to ensure that predators don’t decimate my flock when they are penned, and also preventing harsh drafts or dangerous temperatures. Until I can scrape together the money to do so, I have a thick sheet of plastic stapled to the interior, which won’t keep any determined animal out.
    Also, with my flock as it was before the attack, I was just getting a consistent supply of purebred Iowa Blue eggs and some for consumption from my other birds. Now, my animals are still stressed out from the trauma of the attack, and their missing flock mates. Chickens have a very strong sociability about them, and have been shown to hang around with, for lack of a better term, their best friends. The birds they have grown up with, cuddled with on the roosts, and played with are now gone. With their highly acute social senses, they are extremely stressed, and many of my hens are off laying. Not only does that affect my very limited income stream, but it also chokes my breeding ventures until they are back to laying regularly. I just spent close to $200 on an incubator so I could expand my flock, and had dates set to hatch by so they would be mature by fair. Now, I have wasted my time and money to not only plan out and set up an incubator, but my remaining hens aren’t laying, and one of my two prime breeding roosters is dead, along with some of my current and future breeding stock, and one of my better layers might not lay for a few months or ever again since your dog ripped feathers off of her and broke her leg. If she recovers and is not permanently crippled, the chances that she will break it again are higher, and she cannot be shown at fair as she is now not “to the breed standard of perfection”. She now has to be separated from the others while she heals, or they will pick on her and she will probably not be able to access food or water. It will also take several months for her leg to heal, and for her feathers to re-grow, adding more work to my busy schedule and pain to my pet as she recovers from the damage your pet inflicted.
    Taken from MyPetChicken’s website,http://www.mypetchicken.com/backyar...-need-to-know-about-dogs-if-I-keep-H175.aspx”
    Domestic dogs--including those belonging to you as well as those belonging to other people--are the most common predators of chickens in both suburban and rural areas.
    “Most dogs are not trying to kill your birds. They simply want to chase, but even chasing can be fatal, because chickens often break their necks trying to get away, or die of heart attacks if they have nowhere safe to escape. In cases where your chickens are neither hurt nor killed by a dog attack, they can still be thrown off laying for days or even several weeks due to the upset. If that is all that occurs, though, consider yourself lucky! And remember, even a very small dog can scare, hurt, or even kill your chickens.”

    This is what remains of my flock:
    Bella, Dolly, Kitty, Ferra, Lola, Blue, Louisa, Molly, Ivan, Sully, Hedwig, Pebbles, Teddy, Patches, Florence, and Fenway.
    Barbie - broken left leg, missing feathers on back of head, trying to keep her alive
    Sweetie - found decapitated, dead
    Admiral - found mangled, dead
    Butch - found dead, chased and killed while protecting flock, piles of feathers up and down backyard
    Missing, presumed dead on 1-25-17:
    Lilac, Echo, Fawkes, Bear, Goldie, and Indie
    Indie was the very first chicken I’d hatched from an egg, and would perch on my shoulder to cuddle. She hatched June 29th, 2016
    Lilac and Echo were genetic birchen Iowa Blue siblings, sharing the same parents, and were very tame cockerels that were absolutely gorgeous.
    Goldie was a purebred Charcoal Iowa Blue that I was quite proud of and purchased last year as part of my replacement flock after I lost 13 chickens to a dog attack. I had 3 charcoal hens that I planned on showing at fair as a pen of 3 hens over a year. Goldie I don’t have any more charcoal colored chickens to breed from or even show, because Sweetie is dead, Goldie is gone, and Barbie cannot be shown. Goldie got her name from her innocent expressions and actions, and her strikingly bright gold-green eyes.
    Fawkes was a fluffy chick that was curious and adorable. I planned on showing her and some others in a pen at fair.
    Bear had gorgeous penciling on his feathers and was very social. He had large brown eyes and was a bantam silkie/iowa blue mix. He had a teddy bear appearance, hence the name, and would walk on leash for treats. I helped him out of the shell when he was hatching because he was stuck, and he imprinted on me, creating a very special bond.
    All of the chicks (except Indie and Goldie) hatched on September 23rd, 2016, and each one had distinct characteristics and personalities I loved.

    So, now I’ve expressed why this is important to me, here are some of my replacement costs, based on purchase price(or similar item in case of hatched), and labor input:
    Lilac - $5
    Echo -$5
    Fawkes - $18
    Bear - $4
    Admiral - $5
    Indie - $18
    Goldie - $10
    Sweetie -$10
    Butch - $20
    Labor/feed cost- $410
    Sum: $505

    I bought Butch, Goldie, and Sweetie in a flock sale deal (along with Barbie), and those are the exact prices I paid for each.
    All other chickens were hatched out by my hens. The prices are based off of hatchery prices for STRAIGHT RUN ONLY. That means that I would get an uneven mix of genders, which could shoot me in the foot in replacing my hens and pullets. I based the labor on the 30 minutes of daily chores for the chickens, plus the 2 hours of weekly extra work input such as cleaning waterers or cleaning the coop, accumulated throughout the week. The hours are multiplied by number of weeks the birds were in my care, then by minimum wage, $7.25, then divided by my recent 26 chicken number. This adds up to $317 labor into these birds at least. Feed was calculated for each bird individually at 1.5 pounds weekly. Then divided by 50, and multiplied by .3, the price per pound of chicken feed. The feed adds to $93 worth of feed I sank into just the nine birds that were killed, during the time I owned them.
    I don’t know if the hen, Barbie, with the broken leg will survive, so I estimated her at .75 of Sweetie’s value. That totals to a little over $50 dollars, not even mentioning the extra care she will require for the next few months, should she live.
    Window replacement is expensive, but I am not adding it in this total. Usually I recoup my chicken's costs after fair by selling them at a very nice price, usually not breaking even.
    Adding to the sum of $505, the $50 for Barbie, the total loss I suffered amounts to $555.
    ----- $555 -----

    I do not wish to cause a feud with any neighbors, but I do want to add that these chickens are not just my pets, but my 4H projects that I now need to replace soon in order to show in the different age classes at fair. I spend my own money from my part-time job on my chickens, and I do all of the labor myself. My chickens do not leave our yard, and I have yet to receive any complaints about them.
    This has been an awful experience for me, losing nine pets that I’d raised, spent my own money on, and loved unconditionally. If you are unwilling to pay the $555 value of the chickens your dog killed, my family has no issue taking this to small claims court and charging for all the damages.
    Apologies for the coarseness,
    But I’m still pretty broken up about my babies and picking up dead ones.

    Abby Ruff

    If you read that, thanks. It's more of I needed to put it out there in a place where, even if people don't agree with me, they probably understand how much you actually end up caring about chickens. I appreciate everyone taking the time out of their day to read this, truly.
  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    very well written and to the point. I doubt the dog's owner will bother to read it. He couldn't(wouldn't ?) bother to contain his dog. I think you will present a very strong presence in court.

    You may also want to post on the predator threads- where others may relate what they did to "neglectful dog owners" - believe me "they" are legion.

    I hope justice will prevail.
  3. Ayriad

    Ayriad Just Hatched

    Jan 22, 2017
    Oh I am so sorry for the loss of your feather babies. I am in tears. I would like to add a bit of advice if I may. Please take no offense. I am not a lawyer by no means, just an animal lover like you.
    I don't think you can get the cost of feed back. Instead have a handy man quote you the price of repairing the window. Include that quote.
    Get a quote from breeders to replace your birds that died.
    He is responsible for the vet care to your injured birds to either heal or euthanize. It matters not how far away the closest avian vet is, he is responsible. You can "bargain" with him and have him replace them too or pay the vet bills. He is responsible for the proper( for lack of a better term :( disposal. )
    You can charge him for either the adult price or the cost of incubator and eggs to replace. You have video proof of this happening. He will either pay you or you can call animal control and they will handle it. If he won't pay call the news and go on Facebook with the video. Public shaming works wonders.
    But you can't get back the food you gave your babies.
    I feel your pain sweety and wish you well.
  4. Ayriad

    Ayriad Just Hatched

    Jan 22, 2017
    Ps please keep us posted on this. Don't pad the bill. Get accurate written quotes to repair and replace. It won't bring your babies back.
    Keep the part with the law regarding loose animals hurting fowl. Remember I am not a lawyer. I'm just a middle aged woman with agoraphobia and ptsd. I have lots of animals. They are nicer than people.
  5. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2015

    You are an amazingly well spoken young lady. I read your entire letter and I am impressed. Not just with your writing skills, which are excellent, but with the care and devotion you have shown to your chickens.

    I would however suggest two modifications to your letter.
    1) Include the cost of the window. They should absolutely pay for that.
    2) Do not apologize at the end. You were not remotely, in any way, rude or coarse. You don't owe them an apology whatsoever.

    I hope you take them to court. (I hope they reimburse you of course, but I'm slightly cynical that they'll do that based on their response to you so far.) I am so sorry you lost your chickens in such a manner, and I hope you at least get financial compensation to assist you in rebuilding your flock.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  6. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2015
    Also, I completely agree with Ayriad that the dog's owner is responsible for the vet bills for your bird.
    1 person likes this.
  7. ChickenGoesRuff

    ChickenGoesRuff Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 8, 2015
    Thanks all; I will be making a few minor adjustments to the letter, and I'll try and keep this thread up to date with whatever happens. Hopefully it all gets settled peacefully, without a neighborly feud, but whether or not that happens is up to how the dog's owners react.
    Update on Barbie the hen: She is eating and drinking, but not really moving around. A little lethargic, but I'm hoping to make her a sling (similar to what is used with severe horse leg injuries) so she won't be laying on the kennel floor the entire time, and also so she can hopefully stretch her good leg and avoid sores while I figure out some physical therapy for her. Since it's been 3 days since she injured it, my mom (the nurse) and I agree it's time to give her some aspirin for the pain, probably just every couple days, though. She says that we're probably out of the woods with internal bleeding, but I don't want to risk it, and I don't want the hen to get hurt worse because she tries to walk on it because of the painkillers.
    Again, thanks everybody.
    @Ayriad I have severe social anxiety disorder, and attention deficit disorder (primarily inattentive type), and my chickens seem help me with the anxiety (and I can hyper-focus on chickens for a truly startling time). I agree that they're much nicer than a lot of people, especially when cruddy situations like this come to light.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
  8. Ayriad

    Ayriad Just Hatched

    Jan 22, 2017
    Chickengoesruff, I have social anxiety too. can't leave my property unless hubs goes with me. I'm going outside my house into the yard now at least. That is why I'm getting chickens to make it more pleasurable.
    I really hope the owner steps up for your chickens. Good luck!! [​IMG] And happy wishes for Barbie!!
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
  9. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    I would reevaluate the value of your birds. If they are 4 month old rare show quality birds, they are worth more than $5-10.
  10. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Look, call me an old crank, but I took journalism eons ago when I was in high school, and I was taught to boil it down to the simple facts. Most people simply aren't going to take the time to read more than a couple of paragraphs, and realistically, they aren't really going to care how long you have been in 4-H, or what the people on MyPetChicken think, or a lot of the rest of what you wrote. [​IMG]

    Your letter is very eloquent, and I hope writing it made you somehow feel better, but there is probably no point in sending all that to the person whose dog killed your chickens. You need to boil it down to the pertinent facts - you caught their dog on camera, killing your chickens. By law, they are responsible for the damage their dog did. That's basically it. Your feelings, the birds names, etc., all of that is totally irrelevant. Rare breeds are more valuable than the feed store chicks, show quality birds are worth more, sure, but if you took these folks to court, I really doubt the judge would be willing to listen to half of what you wrote. You care, we care, but nobody else really does - that's the adult world (and just to prove my point, nobody really cares that I took journalism once upon a time, now do they?![​IMG]). Hopefully you will get them to reimburse you for the actual value of the birds, the vet bills for the injured survivors, and actual damage to structures, but getting paid for the feed and labor involved isn't likely to happen.

    Good luck, and I'm sorry you lost your birds. Most of us that have had animals for any significant period of time have experienced gruesome things that we wish we could forget; it's particularly painful when it happens to a pet.[​IMG]
    Ol Grey Mare, aart, Beekissed and 2 others like this.

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