Rogue dogs kill alpacas at Blaine ranch
Rampaging dogs killed four animals and seriously injured four others at John and Kelly Wood’s Wildwood Alpaca farm on Sweet Road early Tuesday.
Two of the alpacas died despite hours of treatment by veterinarians who responded at 3 a.m. Tuesday to Wood’s call. One of the injured animals is paralyzed, the others severely bitten around their hind quarters.
Wood said “we also have about 35 pregnant animals right now,” adding that “when something like this happens they may spontaneously abort. The vet said that we should know within the next two weeks.”
The Woods said that their loss is now more than $50,000 but if other animals abort, the figure could be much higher. One of the dead animals was a stud worth $20,000, and one of the injured survivors is the offspring of an alpaca in Oregon with high stud fees.
“We were planning on exhibiting him at a futurity in the midwest, where if he looks good then we’d get stud fees and so on, but now his coat’s been destroyed. Some of it will grow back but not where there are hunks of flesh missing,” said Wood.
Wood said that about 2 a.m. Tuesday he and his wife heard faint alarm cries, a kind of high-pitched squeal, from part of their herd of over 100 animals fenced close to their house.
“We might have heard something earlier but there was a lot of wind and rain that night,” John Wood said later.
“I got up anyway and saw animals running all over the place and heard dogs barking, and then a black and tan dog, what looked like a small rotweiler, came running really fast chasing some animals through the part of our pasture next to our barn,” he continued.
He said he was able to follow it a short way with his flashlight before it ran off to the west. “When I yelled at it he just took off,” Wood said.
The couple spent the rest of the stormy night looking for injured animals in several pastures on their 14-acre farm.
They found one down in a four-foot ditch and dragged it back to the barn on a sled. By mid-morning on Tuesday the heavy overnight rain had completely filled the ditch to overflowing. With daylight John Wood also found two dead animals in a small enclosure that runs along Sweet Road and up their driveway.
The Whatcom County sheriff’s office referred the incident to SSP-Preferred Animal Control, a company contracted by Whatcom County for animal control.
SSP’s Steve DeWalt arrived about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and asked the Woods to leave their dead animals where they found them until officers could conclude their initial investigation.
A neighbor, Lynn Rogers, said she heard barking the previous evening about 6:30 p.m. but thought it was from Wood’s dog, an aged animal already inside for the night.
Following a call out to Maple Falls, DeWalt returned with another animal control officer at dusk, took photos and looked for dog prints in one of the enclosures.
By this time it was too dark to bury the four dead animals which meant that two of the carcasses went unburied for as much as 36 hours.
“Dr. DeJong said that was unacceptable,” said Kelly Wood, who grew up on a farm in Ohio and has worked with livestock all her life. “Dead animals turn into bait real quickly, and we needed to get things cleaned up instead of waiting all day.” DeJong is one of three veterinarians from the Kulshan Veterinary Hospital who responded to Wood’s call.
John Wood said he’s not sure how the dogs gained entry into successive fenced enclosures. He spent much of Tuesday until well past dark repairing damaged fencing and gates and doubling and tripling the fencing on some enclosures.
“The dogs may come back,” Wood said, “especially since we can’t bury the ones they’ve already killed until tomorrow.” He said both he and his wife would be sleeping in their barns for a while to maintain a watch.
Later Tuesday night an SSP officer returned to speak with the Woods and spent some time patroling the area with a truck that has a searchlight mounted on the cab.
By press time for this issue no roaming dogs had been spotted.