*my* dog killed a neighbor's chicken!!!!



5 Years
Apr 23, 2014
Hillsborough, NC
I haven't even introduced myself here yet but I have a big problem! I've been reading here a while in anticipation of getting some chickens, but yesterday something terrible happened.

Yesterday afternoon our behind neighbor came stomping up to my back door, very angry. It happened that at just that moment my husband got home and met him in the yard. I could see that the man was holding my Pyrenees' collar in his hand and was shaking it at my husband. Then he stomped back off.

Hubby came in and said that the man told him that Apollo (our dog) had gotten out and was on the neighbor's property and had killed one of his chickens!!!!! Apparently my husband had not completely latched one of the gates, and the afternoon wind blew it open. Apollo had been outside enjoying the weather and I suppose he saw a chance to take a little walk. I had no idea he was gone!

Husband got the leash, went over to the neighbor's house and retrieved Apollo. Hubby apologized and asked the man how much money to replace the chicken but the man was too angry to talk about it.

I am beyond mortified, for so many reasons!

1. We only just moved here about 6 months ago and are still meeting the neighbors. This neighbor lives on a large property adjacent to ours. We've met him a couple of times.

2. When we moved in we spent $10,000 (!!) on building a fence to make sure our dogs and children had a safe space and also to be sure that our animals wouldn't be a nuisance. We are not people who let their dogs roam, ever! We moved to a "country" area and I have noticed that out here lots of people don't seem to think they need to keep their dogs fenced, but we do.

3. The dog in question is a Great Pyrenees, a dog bred to protect livestock. Ours is around 11 years old now and wasn't trained to do that work, but he's not and never has been an aggressive dog. He chases squirrels and birds out of our yard, but I never got the impression that he really wanted to catch them (and he never has).

4. I do not doubt what the neighbor says, but I didn't see anything on Apollo except muddy feet. Not a feather, not a speck of blood, nothing. Is it possible he literally scared it to death?

5. How do I make this right with the neighbor? We have always had good relations with our neighbors and we want to continue that. We are perfectly willing to pay to replace his chicken, if he will just tell us what it costs. I do understand that money doesn't replace a relationship (I have no idea what his feelings toward his chickens are... I had NO idea they even had chickens!). I really do want to make this right.

6. And finally, I am now very worried about whether it would be safe for us to have chickens! Our dogs (the other is a Pekingese) have free run of the fenced in back yard.

Ugh. My stomach is just in knots!
Here is my advice:

1) Put locks on your gates so a gate does not get left open again.

2) Don't wait for the neighbor to "tell you" what the hen was worth. If you can afford it, buy a 50 or 100 dollar gift card at a local place that sells livestock supplies, put the gift card in a nice greeting card and bring it to the neighbor (you can throw in some flowers if you want).

Most importantly when you deliver it YOU need to be so upset, so apologetic, so sad that your neighbor ends up calming YOU down and telling YOU that it is okay, these things happen etc... Make such a big deal out of it that he feels the need to reassure the nice sensitive so very upset neighbor lady. Tell him you put locks on your gates and you are so very sorry and you hope to have chickens too etc...

3) Of course you can have chickens, but anyone with dogs that have NOT been raised with birds should be responsible and use FENCING to keep their chicks/chickens safe. I have six dogs (an LGD that I do trust, and 5 others of various breeds taken in as rescues that I will not trust as they could harm or kill the chickens given the chance). I use fencing as I know things can happen and it is my responsibility to ensure the chickens and the dogs are kept safe.
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I understand where you are coming from completely. I had a neighbor's dog kill 3 chickens in 3 days. It is horrible to see one of your beloved chickens dead by anything let alone a dog. I would give him a day or so then go over there explain the safety measures you are taking to prevent this ever happening again ask the man what breed the chicken was hen or rooster get him a replacement not just offer but just do it. Keep in mind if he raised it from a chick it takes a lot of food to raise them. Explain to him you were planning to get chickens turn the talk to chickens might soften him up a lot. As for your dog no matter what the breed it depends on prey drive he chases squirrels and birds. Well chickens are slower and don't fly well makes them an easy target. But my German shepherd is a reformed chicken killer. I will never say cured but it is possible with lots of training.

Would also like to add I admire you taking the time to ask chicken peoples advice on this matters

Best of luck to you
Also another thing....in the country dogs can and do get shot for messing with livestock. Throw in that your dog is elderly and has never done this before and make sure to keep your dog safe.  That is another reason you MUST get on the neighbors good side, you don't want a neighbor gunning for your dog.

This is very true as I have had to do this to a neighbor's dog. That killed my entire flock when I took the dog home neighbor said oh well dog came back next day attacked me. Called animal control neighbor again said oh well next day tried to attack my daughter. Dog shot body was returned to neighbor who called the cops. Because I had proof dog was on my property dangerous to my family and life stock the neighbor was at fault fined 5k dollars plus restitution for 15 hens and my medical just make sure you keep your dog secured
Sorry you had to do that, @coffeychicks, but you tried to tell them! I would've done the same thing. Much better than some who shoot the first time. I keep my dogs fenced and everybody knows that. I'm thankful the neighbors called me when the big one got out and that he didn't kill any chickens on his escapade!
@CluckCluckJenny welcome to BYC! I'm sorry you've had this problem. I agree with the above posts. Go over and apologize, taking with you that gift card if you don't know what kind of chicken he had, or a replacement with a gift card for some feed etc. Apologize a lot and let him know your dog is normally fenced and that it was an unusual circumstance. Get him talking chickens if you can. If you let him know you intend to get some, he'll know you take keeping chickens safe seriously :)
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Sorry you had to do that, @coffeychicks , but you tried to tell them! I would've done the same thing. Much better than some who shoot the first time. I keep my dogs fenced and everybody knows that. I'm thankful the neighbors called me when the big one got out and that he didn't kill any chickens on his escapade!

Yeah if the guy was that angry it is really a good thing he did NOT simply shoot the dog. Fortunately he seems to be enlightened enough to realize it isn't the dogs fault.

I personally would not even consider replacing the actual bird. That could be even MORE hassle for the neighbor (if he doesn't want to brood a chick or go though integrating) and if he was attached to the chicken it could also be an insult. If a neighbor was responsible for the death of one of my dogs I sure wouldn't want them showing up with a similar pup and saying "here is a replacement for the one I killed, we are even since all dogs are the same".
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It sounds like you have done everything you could to contain your dog and this was an unfortunate accident. Maybe you could add a second latch of a different type to your gate/s to ensure that they are secure when closed. We added second latches to our gates, a slide bolt for the wood one and a finger latch system for the chain link to contain our dog (and keep the neighbors dogs out). It sounds like your neighbor was not open to apologies or offers of compensation in the heat of the moment. You could try again verbally or in a letter, let him clearly see how sorry you are about this and provide compensation at that time. Here is an older thread where someone worked out a compensation price (it might vary if this was a show chicken or breeding stock) https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/488367/compensation-for-dog-killed-chickens
For your own future chickens there are a few threads on BYC regarding training your dogs not to chase or attack the chickens. Although your dog is from a breed that is used as a livestock guardian it will still need specific training to leave the chickens alone. Have a look at these coops, the ones with the secure fencing enclosing the actual hen house might be the best option to keep dogs with free run of the backyard away from the birds. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/small-chicken-coop-designs-pictures-of-chicken-coops
Some other threads about keeping dogs from killing chickens (some extreme solutions posted but other options are also there that may work for you):
All the above posts are great advice. I would only add that when you go to apologize, and give him a gift card, ask him how to get started with chickens and how to keep your new chicks safe. As stated above, remind him you dog is elderly, and it was unusual circumstances that will not happen again. Ask him advice on which breed of chickens he recommends for your needs, how to predator proof you're coop, feed questions ect. Keep relations going, when you get your chickens maybe invite him over to look over your coop and birds and ask again for advice on keeping them safe. At that time show him how your dog run is set and maybe let him meet the dog without chickens around. People find it much harder to shoot a dog they are friendly with than a murading stray. Let him know, if he has any concerns to bring them to you and you will do your best to address them.

My neighbor had chickens before I did (mine are only 8 weeks old right now). 1 day last year 1 of my 6 dogs killed 2 of his chicks after they got into my yard. She busted my screen door when she saw them and got 2 chicks and nearly the hen too. (this is how i found out i had a bird killer), I informed my neighbor immediatly and offered to replace his lost birds. Luckily he said his birds should not have been in my yard so not to worry about it. I have kept up relations with him and built an escape proof dog pen in my back yard. Now we are good friends who look out for each others birds.

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