A roving pack of dogs has killed 21 sheep in the last two weeks, an Ephrata, Wash., rancher says.
Ashley Sorenson said four or five dogs are “terrorizing” a 10-mile-wide area between Ephrata and Quincy, Wash. She’s staying up nights to protect her animals.
“I have changed fences, I have stayed up with a rifle, I have shot at these dogs. I even hit one and it still comes back limping to try to damage the animals,” she said. “In the last two weeks, they have killed five or six (sheep) a night if you’re not there to shoot at them.”
Kyle Foreman, public information officer for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, said patrol deputies received a complaint the night of May 4.
“The sheriff’s animal control officer has patrolled the area near her home recently and is not able to find any dog or dogs which may have been involved, based on the vague description of the suspected dogs,” Foreman said.
Because Sorenson lives in a rural area of the county where owners are not required to license their dogs, there is no way of knowing which dogs may live nearby, Foreman said.
“In this case, deputies saw that the fencing at the complainant’s home appeared inadequate to keep the sheep in or keep other animals out,” Foreman said.
With no leads and without further information, the investigation was closed, but it can be reopened if any new leads or information arises, Foreman said.
Sorenson said she has moved the sheep to a new pen near her house.
“The dogs are climbing over the top — what am I supposed to use? Ten-foot, razor-wire fencing?” she said.
Sorenson started with 58 sheep and lambs. She estimates she’s down to roughly 32, and lost $8,400 because she has a contract to provide the animals to a restaurant at $400 apiece. Six or eight more animals are injured. A guard llama was also injured by the dogs.
Sarah Smith, regional animal sciences specialist for Washington State University Grant County Extension, said attacks by dogs or wild predators are common.
Ranchers need to coordinate with local authorities regarding their options, Smith said. Extension will work with producers on ways to stop attacks. Fencing and guard dogs are the most effective methods, Smith said.
“But the predators, they’re out there,” she said. “Once they get a taste for it, they’ll just keep coming back until somebody either puts up a good enough barrier or they destroy that predator.”
State law allows dogs injuring or killing livestock to be killed. Foreman said.
Sorenson set up a GoFundMe account to try to recoup her losses. She hopes to purchase a guard dog, repair fences and get her life back “to somewhat normal.”