Dog attacks leave rural Dickinson calves injuredAfter rural Dickinson rancher Delmar Ficek opened a gate to the outside world Wednesday afternoon, one of his calves scurried on three legs out of a shed where it had been resting.
By: Bryan Horwath, The Dickinson Press
After rural Dickinson rancher Delmar Ficek opened a gate to the outside world Wednesday afternoon, one of his calves scurried on three legs out of a shed where it had been resting.
“His mother’s out there,” Ficek said of calf No. 917. “She’ll come to check on him.”
Sure enough, in a matter of seconds, a concerned cow came around the corner to feed her shy and injured 6-month-old horned Hereford calf. You can’t blame the youngster for being a little jumpy. Three weeks ago, it was attacked during the night by what authorities think was an unruly gang of “domestic pack dogs.”
The second such incident this fall, several of Ficek’s calves were attacked by animals on his ranch in late November, according to a report filed by the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office. Including an incident Ficek said happened in October, the rural Dickinson resident said he’s lost three calves and had six others maimed by the not-so-friendly dogs.
“One of the calves that died was one that I had bottle-fed all summer,” Ficek said. “The mother didn’t have enough milk. It tugs at your heart strings a little bit. That one would always come running up to me.”
As for No. 917, its injuries from the November attack have left it without ears and with a badly mangled front right leg, which requires the animal to basically walk on just three legs. The calf is receiving antibiotics for infection, but Ficek isn’t sure it will make it.
“We believe these are just packs of domestic dogs that, when together, develop a kind of pack mentality,” said Dunn County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Krivoruchka. “We don’t think these dogs are a danger to humans, but we do encourage people to lock their dogs up at night and contact us or the Stark County Sheriff’s Office if they know of anything like this.”
At least one dog, a German Shepherd, in Ficek’s neighborhood was found to have blood on it the morning after the latest attack. The owner of the dog agreed to pay for two of the lost calves, although both that individual and Ficek believe more than one dog — and possibly several — were involved in both attacks.
“What I hope people understand is that they don’t always know where their dog goes at night if it’s not leashed up,” Ficek said. “My neighbors have been keeping their dogs tied up at night lately and I appreciate that. There sometimes is that pack mentality when dogs get together. This isn’t a neighbor against neighbor thing, it’s just something that can happen.”
Although he hopes more attacks aren’t on the horizon for his herd of about 140 cattle, Ficek said there was probably little that could be done besides dog owners making sure their pets are tied up at night.
Ficek said there are plenty of coyotes between Dickinson and Killdeer, but said they usually don’t go after cattle unless they are dead. Ficek added that a U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services representative who visited his ranch after the attacks put the likelihood of coyotes being the culprits at about a 10 percent chance.
No charges have been filed as a result of the incidents.