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Wild Dogs: Feral Ain't Friendly

By: Gertrude Butterbean © 2000-2003

Part I - The Trip to Red Clay

In a small town in the North Georgia Mountains, I heard rumors that folks were losing calves, chickens, and pets to packs of feral dogs. My friend Winnie contacted me and arranged for us to meet.

I'm just a simple woman that raises cows, teases hair, changes the oil (for a small fee), and makes a mean corn bread. No one's ever sought me out to be an avenger of livestock, but I thought I'd travel up there and see what Winnie had to say.

My Bassett Hound Fred and I hopped in my pick up and we headed toward Red Clay. On the way, I called my old fishin' buddy Wilbur, the main upholder of the law in those parts, and asked him what the ordinances were on nuisance animals. He said that in Georgia, a person was within his rights to shoot an animal that was threatening his property. He also mentioned that nothing could be done on an "official" basis since they are so far out in the county. Basically, the law couldn't help out a property owner unless a dog was caught red-handed.

Looking over on the passenger seat at Fred licking his butt, I was overcome with emotion. Lord, I love that old dog! How did the wild dog population get out of hand? My best guess is that people would dump their dogs off, those dogs would breed, and BINGO! You have wild dogs.

Soon, I pulled up a long uneven gravel driveway and where Winnie met me. She brought me in, handed me a glass of sweet tea, and told me a sad tale. In the past three months, all but four of her fifty or so roosters, setting hens, and chicks have been destroyed by wild dogs.

She said, "Early one morning, I surprised them dogs as they attacked my chickens. There were about seven dogs or so out thar scratchin' clawin' and chasin' my chickens, so I aimed my gun at a small solid white dog that was closest to me. I missed the first shot since my hands were shakin' so bad and my dayyum gun jammed on the second shot. The dogs -- particularly the solid white one and a white one with dark speckled ears -- turned on me snapping, snarling, and growling. I was so scared. I started screaming and waving the gun in the air and thank God, the dogs ran off into the woods."

She wiped her eyes and continued, "I love dogs, but I just have to do somethin'! That was over eighty bucks worth of chicken!"

I felt bad for this woman, because I could tell she didn't want to kill the dogs.

There's a difference between a pet dog and a wild dog. Owners make sure that their dogs are petted, loved, fed well, and kept healthy because these dogs are a part of the family. These pets protect our property and give us the unconditional love and companionship we need.

On the other hand, wild dogs have not been raised with human contact and must scavenge for food. Since these animals are not a natural part of the ecosystem, the animals they prey on ('possums, quail, rabbits, Uncle James, etc.) are dwindling in number and the dogs are forced to poach on domestic animals (cats, chickens, calves, etc.). The only predator of wild dogs is man, and since most folks don't have the heart to shoot them, the wild dog population grows. These dogs also carry diseases including external parasites (mange, ticks, fleas and lice), internal parasites (tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, heartworms), and other diseases (rabies, viral epidemics, particularly parvovirus, a liberal democrat, etc.). Many of these dog diseases are capable of infecting humans. These include hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms (hydatids and sparganosis), rabies, and mange.

Daggum, these dogs are worse off than my Uncle Booger!

To be continued ... on to Part II - Shootin' the Moon.

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