WEST VALLEY CITY — West Valley officials say a feral dog that has been killing livestock for "fun" and successfully avoided capture for a year was located Thursday morning and immediately euthanized.
The German shepherd mix was spotted Thursday morning by an animal control officer in an open field. West Valley Community Preservation Department Director Layne Morris said the officer attempted to trap the dog, but it once again got away. The officer was about to leave the area when he spotted the dog again, this time "tracking livestock in a sheep pasture."
The officer, a retired police officer with 20 years of service who worked with SWAT and was a K-9 handler, was given authorization to kill the animal, Morris said. A shotgun was used and the dog was killed quickly.
"The employee determined that this agricultural area was a safe place to engage the dog and took action, shooting the dog. This was carried out safely and humanely," the city said in a prepared statement.
Morris said the city "would have preferred to capture the dog alive and euthanize it in a very controlled situation."
But either way, he said, the dog would have been put down.
"The dog has developed a love of blood. So it’s actively killing livestock in the area. So that’s made the dog simply incompatible to be successful in our society anymore," Morris said, noting he felt sorry for the animal.
"It’s not the dog’s fault it's been abandoned by somebody and is left to fend for itself," he said.
Morris reminded the public that West Valley City established one of the first "no-kill shelters" in Utah.
"We’re animal services. What we do is save animals. We’re a no-kill shelter. We take no joy in having to euthanize a dog," he said. "It’s not a crime and punishment thing. The dog didn’t deserve to be killed. It’s simply a matter of that dog cannot exist in society. It needed to be done for public safety and for the safety of property preservation."
West Valley City added in a prepared statement that "initial efforts to avoid lethal measures and capture the dog were unsuccessful and the dog became increasingly aggressive. As this situation escalated over the past few weeks, it became clear that this threat needed to be neutralized as quickly as possible."
Recently, West Valley officials had received a confirmed report that the dog had attempted to attack a child, who was able to avoid injury by using his bike as protection.
The dog is also suspected of "killing over 40 various livestock animals, which include chickens, sheep, goats and a large full-grown alpaca that stood about 6 feet in height and weighed over 100 lbs.," according to a search warrant filed in 3rd District Court.
Some of the livestock killed were from the Roots Charter High School. The school says that since June, two alpacas, two goats, two sheep and a pig have been killed.
The livestock attacks "appear to be unprovoked and the male dog appears to be killing for fun, and is not killing for food and is not eating the animals it kills," investigators wrote in the warrant.
The warrant further states that "it is just a matter of time until this feral male dog gets tired of killing livestock and turns on human beings or other dogs."
The dog was mainly roaming in the Chesterfield area, from about 2100 South to 3100 South, and from the Jordan River to Redwood Road (1700 West).
The dog had become so good at avoiding capture that it recognized the trucks and uniforms of animal services officers, and had "gotten smarter and smarter the more we chase it," Morris said.
Once it was killed, the dog was determined to be about 4 or 5 years old, a husky-shepherd mix, and about 70 pounds.
"The dog was not starving in any way,” Morris said
The dog was now killing livestock for fun even as "some misguided people" in the area were regularly feeding it, he said. Other residents, primarily livestock owners, were fed up with the animal, prompting untrained people with guns to go looking for it.
"There had been several Saturday hunts amongst the residents to try and find this dog and kill it. That was a huge concern for us. That was a huge concern for our police department. So all these things when you add it up, we needed to get that dog put down as quickly as we could, as humanely as we could,” Morris said.