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Dog attacks present challenges for law enforcement and citizens alike

Three neighborhood dogs attacked several goats owned by local resident Christina Lilienthal


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - This goat owned by Prineville resident Christina Lilienthal was attacked by neighborhood dogs early Tuesday morning.

Prineville resident Christina Lilienthal knows all to well how destructive vicious dogs can be when their owners fail to keep them under control.

For the past few years, she has raised Boer goats on her five-acre property northwest of Prineville under the name SeaDawn Farms. The business not only provides her a source of income, but maintains the property’s exclusive farm use designation, which helps her save money on property taxes.

However, early Tuesday morning, Lilienthal's business, and peace of mind, took a major hit when three neighborhood pit bull-husky mix dogs attacked her prized goats.

“They jumped into the fenced area,” she said, “and they killed a five-month old female that was a real beauty, and injured one of my 17-month-old females to the extent that we had to euthanize her. Five others were pretty badly mangled.”

This was not the first time the dogs had gotten loose and roamed the neighborhood. One month earlier, Lilienthal was out of town when the dogs tried to attack her goats. That time, they were thwarted by a neighbor who fought the dogs off and was bitten in the process.

Lilienthal said that she reported the most recent attack, and a deputy from the Crook County Sheriff's Office came out and took a report. However, the dogs were not removed from the property, leaving her concerned that they could strike again.

“Something has to be done,” she said. “It’s a dangerous situation.”

For local law enforcement, handling dog attack incidents like the one Lilienthal recently faced is an ongoing challenge. Although state and local laws require dog owners to keep their animals on their property and under control, when those laws are broken and dogs attack livestock or people, the action that officers can initially take is somewhat limited.

They can issue the dog owner citations for each offense and remind owners to keep their animals locked up, but they cannot remove the dog without prior court approval.

“We cannot, as a sheriff’s office, just arbitrarily go out and take someone’s dog,” said Sheriff Jim Hensley.

Consequently, whenever a person files a dog attack complaint, it is reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office to determine if further action is necessary.

“We can impound the dog,” said Prineville Police Captain Michael Boyd, regarding potential court decisions. “If we think they are a big enough nuisance, there are sections under our ordinances where we can have them put down. That has happened in the past.”

In addition to following the complaint process, the law provides another way for livestock owners like Lilienthal to protect themselves from dog attacks. A person outside the city limits can legally shoot a dog if it is attacking their livestock.

Lilienthal was made aware of this option when deputies responded to her incident, but she does not like the idea of having to shoot the dogs if they try to attack again.

“I’m not a quick draw, and I’m not going to shoot at night,” she said. “I’m not going to shoot toward one of my neighbors’ houses.”

Since the dog attack, Lilienthal now sleeps with her window open and wakes up each morning at 4 a.m., the time of day the attack occurred, wondering if the dogs are coming back.

“It’s a very sad situation,” she said.



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