Neighbor's dog killed hen - how to stay on good terms?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by bethadee, Jun 5, 2017.

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  1. bethadee

    bethadee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 17, 2012
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    I live in a suburban area where lot sizes are a couple of acres. My neighbor's dog tends to roam a bit, which never bothered me until yesterday when he killed one of my hens. He wasn't playing, he went full predator focused crazy on this hen. My neighbor helped me chase the dog down, so she saw that he killed the hen. I am going to talk to her this week and want to know how to approach the situation to continue having a good relationship with my neighbor. I'm pissed and don't want to hate my neighbors for the next thirty years, but I also don't want to have to keep my chickens inside their run because of a dog. I've lost chickens to all manners of predators, which I don't mind. When a fox takes a bird, it's a quick and natural process. It's the price I pay for letting them roam. This dog ran around with a frightened chicken for a long time before he finally stopped and finished her off. This is a game to him, not survival.

    I don't have an issue with a dog getting out and killing one chicken. It happens. What I want is reassurance that it won't happen again. I know they are putting in an electric fence, but these things DO NOT work with a dog with a prey drive. Asking them to put in a real fence at a cost of $10k doesn't seem like it's going to get anywhere. I don't have a gun, and even if I did, it would be illegal to use it with the proximity of my house to others. Also, this happened right in front of me and there was NOTHING I could do to stop that dog from taking down the chicken. I had no time to grab pepper spray, an air gun, or anything that could have prevented this from happening. Animal control told me all they can do is put a "restraining order" on the dog, which means they need to keep him under control or they will be fined at the next offense. It doesn't specify how they keep the dog restrained. I live in a well-to-do suburb where $100 fine is a drop in the bucket.

    I also am unsure of how to ask them to replace this hen. I don't go to Agway and just buy hatchery stock. I spend a lot of time talking to local hobbyists on forums, finding local farms with the breed I'm looking for, and tracking down the right birds for my flock. Not to mention time spent separating the new birds and then introducing them. Yes, this hen only cost $30, but that doesn't represent the time it takes to replace her. Is it reasonable to ask to recoup some of these "time" costs?
     
  2. TinyBirds

    TinyBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm so sorry for your loss. I know it's a hard time to think clearly when emotions are running high and something unexpected happens,, but over time any free range chicken is likely to get taken by something, such as hawks or daytime hunting foxes, bobcats, raccoons. We learned the hard way too over the years that anything free range is a risk you have to be willing to take, or else construct predator proof runs (such as large dog kennels covered in 16 gauge hardware cloth including top and apron around the bottom) where the chickens are safe from all predators.
     
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  3. TinyBirds

    TinyBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wouldn't be mad at the neighbor or their dog long term (after initial anger passes). It would be good probably to share the cost of a good strong boundary fence.
     
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  4. TinyBirds

    TinyBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do think legally they probably have to pay for your lost bird though, just guessing.
     
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  5. jennyf

    jennyf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry for your loss. I'd be pissed too--even with the risks of free ranging, the dog was on your property. That's the issue--what if that dog came over and bit your kid, or killed your cat, or a smaller dog, or just poops in your front yard? People are so inconsiderate. You might present her with the animal control laws in your area. I'd also add up the cost of the hen, cost of feed to raise her to her age, the six months of eggs at $3/dozen that you'll miss out on while you raise a replacement, etc. You could also note you feel you're due some money for the emotional pain of seeing your hen killed in a horrible way, but you'd rather see that applied to the cost of a secure fence. Next time the dog is running loose, you might also have a convenient friend in the neighborhood who sees it running loose, picks it up and gives it a free ride to animal control, where the owners will have to pay a fine to get it back (or it gets adopted out to someone else who doesn't let it roam, or meets a humane end).
     
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  6. Chickassan

    Chickassan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would remove the dog I've got no patience for these sorts of things.
     
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  7. TinyBirds

    TinyBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes if there are leash laws for dogs where you live, they should get a fence or large shaded kennel for their dog.
     
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  8. bethadee

    bethadee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 17, 2012
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    My town doesn't have leash laws, so situations like this are pretty commonplace.
    Thanks for the reply. You're right the main issue is that the dog was on my property. If the dog killed a hen on their property, that's my problem not theirs. Right now they are being cooperative and trying to find a replacement, but they are looking at Leghorns you can pick up at Agway and that's just not going to work with my bantams. They don't know anything about chicken breeds. Good advice about the cost of raising the hen and lost eggs. I hadn't thought about the egg part and we do depend on these chickens for our breakfast every day.
     
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  9. PrancingGoat

    PrancingGoat Out Of The Brooder

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    May 17, 2017
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    Wow, what a sad thing to experience! I am so sorry :C
    I read your post to my husband who is an attorney here in Massachusetts and he agreed that since the chicken is your "property" that they definitely owe you that much but the problem is, as you stated, that they will just go to Agway and pick up a $5 chick. You still have the right to demand compensation and see where that takes you. He said if it were our chicken, he would demand (lawyer term for ask seriously) that they pay for raising the hen, eggs, etc, (specifying its breed and quality). As for the fence, I would point out that the dog was on your property. Even without leash laws, that is a problem.

    When it comes to the dog, I would try not to blame him. I know the initial anger is directed there but we raise dogs to "play" with their prey. It IS a game to him because we taught them from puppies to do that just by giving them a fluffy squeaky toy. The ONLY blame/consequences should go toward the owners. They need to keep him contained in fenced backyard or use a leash. Hope this helps!
     
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  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    @bethadee What a terrible situation and I am sorry for your loss. :(

    I just cannot believe there is any town without leash laws or making it illegal to have dogs roaming at large. And if indeed they don't, I would be making a trip to the next city council and insisting for the safety of the people and children they NEED to institute a policy. That almost makes me mad enough to come to your town hall meeting myself. :mad: Sadly domestic dogs are a major predator for chickens. And as you noted this IS a game... They can and will actually kill your whole flock just because! They love to chase and chickens are a self fulfilling reward. Most localities also have registration laws for dogs.. are these people paying their dog tax and getting rabies vaccines? I would call animal control EVERY TIME I see the dog lose, until they come get it. Maybe a fine isn't that harsh, but having you dog come up missing and not knowing what happened to it along with having the dog set in a nasty kennel and now ensuring the dog is registered and vaccinated, sometimes even spayed or neutered.. cumulative effect maybe..

    I have some hatchery stock. But worked very hard to get certain breeds even driving 3+ hours each way in my gas guzzling suburban where we have *almost* the highest gas prices in the continental US. And yes, put tons of time and care into them. In no way, shape, or form would I ever be satisfied to replace my healthy, hardy, well bred hen with a **** leghorn (or any other breed that might have been mis-sexed and end up being a rooster 5 months from now) CHICK from the hatchery/feed store. You can't even raise a single chick happily. Also, hatching eggs go for much more than eating eggs, though it doesn't sound like you have a rooster. And it's useless to ask for pain and suffering caused by seeing the incident, because that simply isn't how it works. That would probably need proof of counseling/therapy or something like that. Besides you already said you want to remain good neighbors.

    I have dogs, so will TRY to avoid shooting. Our properties are only 1 acre... so get something that doesn't go to far but still effective. However as you noted it's often too late by the time you return.

    Maintaining good relations with my neighbors is important. Stock yard fencing and T post are VERY cheap, easy to install, effective, and they only have to fence enough to contain THEIR dog not the whole property. It's not my personal problem if it's ugly! I do however think that if properly installed, electric fencing CAN be very effective. It's true that it's mental not a physical barrier which may be fine if your hens aren't directly on the other side, like if you're down the block where the dog doesn't have direct line of sight. But if your property lines theirs, yes the prey drive may override the fear of being shocked. And I would heavily be concerned!

    OK so one good "responsibility" maker if you will... call their homeowners insurance company. Once a dog has killed ANY animal, it is a liability in the eyes of the policy underwriters. Hence they will either get a higher rate or dropped and have to find another carrier.

    I would add up the cost, maybe even for getting a full grown replacement of your selected breed and gently tell them this is what you need to have covered and anything less is just a slap in the face on top of their predatory animal hunting at your place that now knows where to come play when it wants to have some fun after already proving it's intent. Remember they are not the ones who suffered the loss and how would they feel if something came to their house and hunted down their beloved pet right in front of them. If you feel it will be easier for you to get out what you need to say, write it in a letter so they can't interrupt you with question or comment that may throw you off what you wanna say. Remember not to make any threats. Being calm and professional is always the most productive route.

    Neither my neighbors or myself are going anywhere any time soon. I'm sorry, but if the law won't protect you then you must protect yourself, IMHO... by whatever means necessary! :(

    Most locations state that if you are on your own property and in fear of your life or that of your livestock (which chickens are) that it is within your right. I encourage you to look up your actual laws regarding protecting your livestock and the leash laws. And present to them the facts, such as what's allowable on your side of the law. You can't just take the word of whoever answers the phone as I can't even begin to tell you how many stupid people work for government agencies. Talk to someone in charge who knows what they are talking about. I have had to put down a cat that got onto our property and I saw it and tried to stop it but it was too late, and I won't have an animal suffer. It always makes my head spin and changes the course of the day. I don't think it will come easy even if it another predator. It will be especially difficult to put down a dog, especially trying to hit a moving target isn't that easy. So I'm not saying just kill it. But what I'm saying is if it's my flock or their dog, it *might* hurt me less for it to be their dog. Ya, I don't blame the dog either, it's a predator by nature... It's the owners responsibility to contain their dog AND ENSURE ITS SAFETY.

    Anyways, don't know if I came up helpful ideas or just ranted a little myself.

    Again so sorry not only that you lost a hen but that you are in this situation at all. You did the right thing by cooling off before approaching the issue. Now think about what will really right the situation to your comfort level and kindly ask. :hugs
     

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