News

Killer dogs on the loose once again in Hilliers; Marcus the llama slaughtered this time

The death toll of animals continues to rise in Hilliers, and the list now includes a couple of dogs and a llama.

Two dogs, one with a bullet wound, were destroyed by the Regional District of Nanaimo's animal control contractor Feb. 14 after the owner voluntarily gave them up when faced with evidence they killed a llama at a neighbouring property, according to the RDN's Tom Armet.

Scotty Taylor confirmed two dogs killed his six-year-old llama named Marcus.

"It was a nasty kill, very gruesome," said Taylor, a Hilliers resident. "These are nasty, nasty dogs. Silent hunters — they didn't even bark."

When Taylor heard his llama in distress, he checked out the situation, saw the dogs turning their attention on him, and went into the house to fetch his gun. When he returned he said the dogs were back on the carcass of Marcus.

"I shot one of them," said Taylor. "I didn't kill him, I wounded him, knocked him down."

Armet said the owner of the now-destroyed dogs still has two doberman/pitbull crosses on his Hilliers property and the fence — partially destroyed by a wind storm, allowing the two offending dogs to escape — has been repaired.

Taylor said because of these dogs, he fears for the safety of his wife and neighbour when they go for a walk in the area.

"If those dogs are loose, kids and people, those dogs will attack," said Taylor.

The same dogs were allegedly involved in the attack on other livestock in the area in October of last year, including five sheep and some quail that were pets for children in the area. The woman who owned the sheep and the quail told The NEWS in November she didn't believe the dogs could fight their appetite for blood.

"They (the dogs) won't stop," said Amber Dawes. "If they get out again they will go after anything that runs. I don't want to shoot the dogs, I love dogs, but it will be a kid next," she said, adding that children must walk past the property containing the dogs every day to and from the school bus.

After the attacks in October, Armet said there were issues related to positively identifying just which dogs, if any, attacked the sheep, so the RDN didn't believe it would be successful in court if applying for a warrant to seize the animals. In an Oct. 31 story in The NEWS, Armet said:

"I don't want to suggest this (the attack on the sheep) was a one-time event," said Armet. "But the apparent dog owners have taken steps in regards to the ability of the dogs to be at-large. There doesn't seem to be any public safety concerns at this point."

RDN staff and its animal control officer began a "very aggressive investigation" after a report Feb. 13 about dogs being on the loose again in Hilliers, said Armet.

"We sent our animal control officer out there right away to gather evidence and start searching for the dogs that we understood were still at large," said Armet. "And we began preparing legal documents to enter the property and seize the dogs under a provincial court warrant."

Armet said the dog owner voluntarily handed over the two dogs before being served with any warrant.

"One had a bullet wound," said Armet. "The other two (dogs that weren't seized) are still considered dangerous dogs."

Armet said the dogs in question are doberman-pit bull crosses.

Other reports from the same rural neighbourhood by hobby farmers indicate there had been problems with dogs chasing and attacking livestock in the area for months before the October attacks.

After the attacks in the fall of last year, RDN director Julian Fell and Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser attended a meeting with Hilliers-area farmers and ranchers.

After that meeting, Fraser said that while there are larger issues that need to be addressed in regards to legislation protecting livestock, he said the fact nothing had been done in relation to the deaths of the Dawes' sheep more than two weeks after it happened is "unacceptable."

"The only action we've seen so far is inaction," said Fraser. "Any reasonable interpretation of (the RDN's dangerous dogs) bylaw gives them jurisdiction to act."

Fraser also said there are larger issues about the wording and interpretations of both the RDN bylaws and the provincial livestock act. While it seems it would be within a farmers' rights to shoot dogs that are attacking their livestock, Fraser said he's not sure that's a good idea on the small farms of his constituency that are part of small communities like Hilliers, about 10 km west of Qualicum Beach.

"That (discharging a firearm) might work if you were in a remote farming area, but these (farms) are in our communities," said Fraser. "It's putting all the onus on the livestock owners, the farmers. In essence, it's also pitting neighbour against neighbour."

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