When Predators Attack

A post coming tonight or tomorrow on the duck brooder–I want to get a good before and after picture of those messy ducklings!

Part of why I didn’t post is because on Friday morning, we had a dog attack our rabbits.

With quarantine and the herd we have right now, our rabbits are set up in a few main areas–our original run-in, the garden run-in, and a tent in the backyard. The original run-in is the best hid, underneath our magnolia tree and behind the chicken coop. The problem?

There was nothing blocking anyone or anything from coming in.

Friday at about 4:30, Huck started barking.

Huckleberry Hound

Great watchdog, horrible guard dog

Mike told him to shut up and go back to bed, but as we tried to get our last 30 minutes of sleep, we heard knocking.

Mike went outside to investigate and I popped open the bedroom window, heard something was getting into the rabbits and rushed downstairs to grab some “support” for Mike.

We ended up having some sort of bulldog or bulldog mix attacking our rabbits and then camped out underneath. George was thumping his feet in his cage, but beyond that I didn’t know who was alive–including 16 5-week old kits. That early in the morning, with an angry dog who wouldn’t come out from underneath the hutch. We tried a few different things short of shooting the dog: spraying it with water, trying to get him to move by using a bully stick, trying to “scare” him away with voices and standing tall. Mind you, this is all from the other side of the fence. Mike wanted to try and get a noose around his neck to catch the dog, but when I walked up and it started growling as soon as the flashlight hit his eyes–we had to walk away.

This experience was both very enlightening and very frustrating. We called animal control at that very early hour, and dispatch sent us to the on-call animal control officer. This woman told me I would have to wait until 7 in the morning (2 hours away at that point) when the first officer on duty came into the office. It’s not an emergency, she said. She sounded like I woke her up, and she sounded like she was about to roll back over and go to sleep.

The animal control officer who showed up shortly before 8 am told me that woman was wrong. They should have come out at 5 am to get the dog; it was a livestock attack. By then, my best American doe (almost breeding age!) was dead, the rabbits shaken, and one of the cages dented in.  (Try not to mind the very messy spray stains down the back–the run is due for a painting once we get to the next FULL cage cleaning.)

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This is after the cage had been bent back in some, and the hook re-bent to fully functional.

 

We also learned that we have every right to protect our livestock–but only while the animal is in the act of attacking. This means that on Friday morning, by the time my husband had scared the dog into leaving the rabbits alone but the dog was still on our property and underneath our rabbits, there was nothing we could do about it. Are you frustrated yet? I am, just writing it.

What he told me is that if the dog is running away after killing your livestock, there is nothing you can legally do. If the dog is camped out underneath your livestock in a pile of dead animals, but isn’t attacking anything just then, there is nothing you can legally do. We would have had to have exposed ourselves to the dog as it was attacking to take care of it.

Alright, while he wasn’t that particular on the details, he was very specific about what qualified.

So Friday was a frustrating day for us, learning there was little we could have done and that the one thing we could have done (catch the dog) was denied us because a woman was too lazy to get out of bed. We lost one of our best American does, who I wanted to show. We learned some things–good and bad.

The one benefit is that the animal control officer who came out brought back a large trap to try and catch the dog if/when it comes back. It’s set up outside right now; I want the dog to come back so I can catch it before we get too comfortable. But I also don’t want it anywhere near my animals. The animal control officer even swung by on Saturday to see if we caught anything–he’s a farmer, with livestock, so could understand the frustration. I’d be happy to work with him again, though I’d rather not have a reason to.

I’m not sure how long we get to keep this giant trap for, but I’m not about to ask–I’d rather just hold on to it.

Below, you can see where the dog tore down the automatic watering system we had in place. It broke into Leah’s cage and popped open the lock.

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Since we didn’t want the locks to just be pried open by a dog (or any other predator) ever again, we got some clips at Home Depot and put them on the bottoms and latches of the doors–it’s not much, but it’s one more degree of protection. Two are placed on each cage on the bottom row, and only the one clip at the bottom for the top row cages (primarily used for does with kits, for now).

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We talked about a few different ways to keep an animal like a dog out of this area, and after going over electric netting fencing, welded wire and others–we settled on using a spare dog kennel panel. It was resting up against the shed for some future use, and now we have it. We might adjust the placement of this panel, and we may need another panel, but for right now–it works perfectly.

As long as it’s closed and latched every time, I feel much more secure that before something gets too far along, we’ll know about it.

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The last thing that came out of this experience is one that Huck likes–he’s earned a “get out of your crate free” card for the forseeable future. We now wake up every morning with a 70-pound dog in our bed, because he’ll let us know when something is amiss. It was a privilege he used to only get when I was home by myself, but he’s proved himself useful.

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