"This is an emergency call," the voice on the other end of the line was saying to me, as I stood over a desk at the P.D. The caller should be dialing 911, I thought, as I quickly grabbed a Post-It pad and clicked out my pen.
Pointless to say so at this point, so I said, "Go ahead. Where is it?"
He reeled off a 7 digit address of a road that indeed ran into our town, but the vast majority of which was outside of our little town. It would be a county call, but this wasn't time to point that out. "What's going on?" I asked, after I reconfirmed the numbers.
"My wife called to report that a pit bull and two labs are actively attacking the livestock and her. We have animals down."
"Is she injured?" I asked, motioning to my coworker that it was time to go.
"I don't know. I'm not there, but I'm leaving for there, right now, coming from Big City," he responded.
"I'll be en route, and will notify the County, I told him, hanging up. I told my colleague, "Dog attack, west of town," as I ran to my car. My co-worker ran to his, and I notified the County of our destination and why, so that they could get their own deputies on the way. We charged down the road with lights and sirens.
Upon arrival, I found a woman who was fully into hysterics, at the gate. She was gasping, sweating, and had some blood on her. I kept the medics en route. She said, "They were at the barn!" I sped past her, toward the barn..
As I pulled to a stop, I unlocked the shotgun from the rack, and jogged into the paddock around the small barn. A large ewe was down, bleeding heavily from the neck and hind end. She did not look good. In the barn, two sheep were on the ground bleeding and bleating. I went around the outside of the paddock, and found excited dog prints, where the dogs had gotten into the enclosure. They had taken advantage of poor fence-building technique, and pushed in the wire panel which had been holding the sheep in, but held nothing out.
The lady arrived, sobbing. The dogs had been after her sheep. They had hazed the sheep into the barn, and then locked onto the older sheep's necks, while other dogs chewed at their anuses.
We got a couple of the sheep up on their feet, to assess them and help them breathe. Blood on the oily wool transferred to our hands. One knelt back down. We went back outside to the worst-hit sheep, and it was clear that she was shuffling off her life. The dogs were gone. I slung the 870, muzzle down on my weak side shoulder.
"I saw them messing with my sheep, and I went down with my sheep dog to the barn, and my sheep dog started to fight with the pit bull. I pulled my dog back, and that's when the pit came after me," she said. "I kicked it back, and it didn't get me. I think Old Lady's dying, and suffering. I think one of you should put her down." The deputies were beginning to arrive, including the Animal Control deputy. I was out of my city, and that call would be made by the deputies. "I didn't know what to do. We have a .410, but I don't know how to use it," she confessed.
I rather hoped that she would learn, in the future.
"You weren't bitten?" I asked, marveling. She'd waded into a small pack of dogs, fought, and come out unhurt? "Are you sure? You've got blood on you."
"Oh, that's just the sheep blood," she said. She was still shaking.
"Do you know the dogs?" I asked.
"Oh, I've seen them before," she responded. "While running, I see them out in front of the house with the old car up on blocks in front, just east of our place. This isn't the first time that they've harassed me or my livestock." Her voice began to get some steel in it. "When you find their owners, you have them come right here, and you have them dig a grave for Old Lady! You bring them right here!" she had begun to yell just a bit. At that moment, the old ewe she called Old Lady kicked her last, and died from her several wounds, in dust under the shed overhang. The woman gave an angry sob.
"You're angry now," I said.
"Y-yeah. Yeah I am," she responded, balling her fists up, tight. "Who the hell leaves their damned dogs out to pack up and attack sheep that never did anyone any harm, just for the fun of killing? Who raises dogs that would do that? Why did they do that? Those weren't strays. They weren't hungry. They were just... in a blood lust! They came after me!"
"Dogs are kind of like people in that respect," I reflected. "They'll do something in a pack or a mob that they never would do by themselves. But the good part is, you're angry. You're mad. That's a much more useful emotion than terror. Hold on to that. Use that."
"I guess I was pretty terrified before," she said, casting her face down and looking dejected as she reflected on herself, ruefully.
"Maybe. But when you had to, you fought back," I reminded her. She was a medium-sized woman in her late thirties, wearing shorts and running shoes, and had fought off a pack of blood lust-filled curs with her feet. This was worth mentioning.
Her head snapped up, and her fists clinched a little bit. "That's what I do," she said. "I fight."
"Good," I said. "Don't forget that. The deputies are calling a vet for you. Call us if you need us."
We headed back to our city.