Not only did Ed Barnes find one of his guard dogs shot dead this weekend in the pasture they protect off O’Neil Highway between Redmond and Prineville, he also found a sad scene.
Missy, the 4-year-old Maremma killed sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, was the mother of the other two dogs protecting a herd of 350 goats. Missy’s 11⁄2-year-old pup , Priscilla, was lying next to her slain mother when Barnes found them. Missy’s 11-month-old pup, Hulio, was a half-mile away, at the far end of the pasture, and didn’t want to return to the spot where someone had apparently killed his mom.
“They are a little bit confused, disoriented having their mother gone,” he said.
Barnes said it is unclear when or why someone shot his dog.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” he said Monday.
The Crook County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting and is looking for information about who shot Missy off the highway between Redmond and Prineville.
“At this point, we don’t have any suspects as far as who shot the dog,” Sgt. Travis Jurgens of the sheriff’s office said Monday.
Calling Missy a friend and part of her family, Jennifer Cole, Ed Barnes’ wife, doesn’t understand why someone would kill her.
“She was on our property, in our fence,” Cole said. “How can anyone come and shoot a defenseless animal like that?”
The guard dogs protect the goats from coyotes, cougars and other predators, said Barnes, who raises the goats for meat. The big white Maremma dogs, weighing 110 to 130 pounds, originated in Italy and are very protective of the livestock they guard.
While resident wolves aren’t known to be in Central Oregon, Barnes and Cole have said they are confident their dogs could fend them off.
A federal research project focused on livestock guard dogs is underway in northeast Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington to learn how well other European breeds of dogs fare against wolves. While it’s uncommon for the dogs to be shot or injured by people, Gail Keirn , spokeswoman for the National Wildlife Research Center in Colorado, wrote in an email that it does happen.
“Luckily, it has not (happened to dogs in the project),” she wrote, “but two dogs have been hit by cars.”
Jurgens said whoever shot the dog could face a charge of first-degree animal abuse. He said cases of dogs being shot are not common in Crook County, and the part of the county where the shooting occurred is usually fairly quiet.
To access the pasture, someone had to drive 11⁄2 miles from the highway down a private road, Cole said.
The dogs sometimes bark at people and other dogs passing close to the pasture. Barnes, who is considering raising a reward for information about the shooting, wonders if the barking may have led to the violence.
“The neighbor said just about dark Saturday night there was a ruckus,” he said. The neighbor heard barking and people yelling, Barnes said, but the neighbor and others who live near the pasture didn’t hear a gunshot .
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