Dogs roaming the rural areas of Cooke County can sometimes be a pain. Literally.
Elizabeth Lease found that out last week when her Pomeranian dog, Foxy, was killed in an attack by four beige and white dogs she said belong to her neighbors. One of her cows was also injured in a separate attack by the same dogs, she said.
Lease said her husband Bill Lease, 78, was outside their home just past the Rad Ware School in Timber Creek Estates the day the dog was killed. Lease was burning some pecan shells, she said.
Foxy — who was with Lease that day — “suddenly took off” Lease said. A short time later, Bill Lease heard what sounded like the couple’s dog yelping in pain.
“He could tell it was our dog,” Lease, 77, said.
She said Foxy died during the attack and her husband buried the little dog’s body.
He did not want to leave the dog’s body lying where she could see it, she explained.
“It was a bloody mess,” Bill Lease later said of the attack on Foxy.
Elizabeth Lease said she was working when her dog was killed and her husband called her at work to tell her about the incident.
The Leases called Cooke County Sheriff’s department to report the incident. Lease said a representative for the agency told her there isn’t anything a deputy can do when a neighbor’s dog attacks and kills another dog.
Four days later, she said, a neighbor was outside and heard dogs barking.
The resident was with her seven-year-old granddaughter. The pair went to investigate the barking and witnessed the same group of beige and white dogs attacking one of the Lease’s cows.
Lease said she wanted to stop the attack with a gun, but that she doesn’t know how to use a firearm and her husband — who could have shot the dogs — was not at home. Lease and others managed to chase away the dogs she said she recognized as belonging to a neighbor.
This time, she said a dispatcher for the sheriff’s department told her she was within her rights to kill a dog that was attacking livestock on her property. She said she made a demand that a deputy be sent to her home to investigate her claims. She said she felt entitled to be indignant due to the vicious nature of the attack.
“The dogs had my cow and she was bleeding like crazy,” Lease said. “I told the dispatcher I wanna talk to a sheriff. When a dog’s attacking it needs action,” she said.
Lease said two officers did arrive later and told her they intended to talk to the owners of the dogs, a family Lease said includes two teenaged children.
She said immediately after the attack, her neighbor gave the injured cow an injection of about 12 cc of penicillin.
“That right away stops the infection,” she said.
The cow was treated by a veterinarian and is recovering after receiving several additional antibiotic shots and topical medications to its wounds.
The cow’s mouth, face and ears were badly torn in the attack, Lease said, and she has the photos she says prove it.
In some pictures, the cow’s face is visibly swollen and still stained with blood.
Others photos depict blood deposited on the ground at the site of the dog attack.
Lease said two sheriff’s deputies did stop by her home to discuss the incident. She said they also paid a visit to the owners of the marauding dogs.
The officers reported that the dog owners agreed to compensate the Leases for their injured cow, but so far, Lease said she’s heard nothing from the family.
Lease said the owners gave the two deputies their telephone number, but that she has no plans to call them. She said she has talked with a Gainesville attorney and is contemplating a civil lawsuit against her neighbors.
Cooke County Sheriff Mike Compton said animal attacks on livestock are relatively rare.
“Livestock can usually defend itself,” he said.
Compton — who also took on the job of overseeing rabies prevention protocol in the county — said he and his deputies take animal-related matters such as dog-on-human attacks very seriously due to the risk of rabies, a viral disease that effects the central nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms become apparent.
But the incident on the Lease’s property was different in that no humans were harmed.
Still, Compton said his deputies dutifully investigated the incident on the Lease’s property.
Compton and his wife Lynne are pet owners. He said they are both very careful with their own dogs and understand the deep attachments people often have for their pets. However, Compton admits household pets and other domestic animals can cause a lot of trouble, especially in rural areas without leash laws or the police manpower to enforce them.
“People move up here and all of sudden they think they’re in the days of Old Yeller and you can turn your dog loose and he can go anywhere he wants to. The more crowded the county gets, the worse it gets. Dogs can create a lot of hassles,” Compton said.
Along with the hassles come volumes of Texas laws dealing with animal issues, he said. Many of the laws are complex and can sometimes be difficult to enforce, he added.
“It’s really a stick wicket,” he said. “Commissioners could pass a leash law, but we don’t have any way of picking up the stray dogs.”
Sick, injured or abandoned pets are also, apparently, a problem for deputies who sometimes receive calls from citizens who ask the department for assistance with these animals only to learn there is not much the deputies can do.
Dropping the dog off at an animal shelter or hospital is usually the best bet.
Residents, however, are allowed to kill dangerous dogs.
Under Texas law, a dog or a coyote that attacks animals or may attack animals, including domestic livestock or fowls, can be killed by the person who witnesses the attack or by a person acting on behalf of the witness. The person who kills the dog is not liable to the dog’s owner for damages.
Dog owners whose pets are known to have attacked or killed other animals or dogs are required to confine their dogs.
Failure to confine a dangerous dog carries a fine of $100 per incident and can be assessed each day the dog is not locked up.
Dogs that bite humans must be quarantined, Compton said. The dogs are taken — usually by their owners — to the Refinery Road Veterinary Clinic for a period of time during which vets and technicians observe the dogs for signs of rabies.
Failure to comply with the quarantine order also results in a fine, he added.
It is also unwise to shoot a dog that has bitten someone, he said. After the dog dies, the animal’s brain begins to decompose rapidly sometimes making it impossible to determine whether or not the animal was infected with rabies.
In some Texas counties, dogs must be registered.
Cooke County has no such registration requirements.
Pct. 2 commissioner Steve Keye said dog-related problems are fairly frequent in some parts of the county.
“It’s a pretty consistent complaint out in my precinct,” Keye said.
He said residents who find a sick, injured or abandoned dog or cat face a fee if they choose to drop the animal off at the Noah’s Ark animal shelter. He said he has had to pay the fee himself several times, and he said he feels the issue is not merely one of compassion.
Stray animals can also harbor disease and threaten public safety, he noted.
Pet overpopulation is another major problem in the county, he said.
“It’s why you find dogs dead under bridges or kittens drowned in burlap bags,” Keye said.
He said funding for shelters such as Noah’s Ark is an important issue and one that should be considered during the court’s annual budget hearings.
More than anything, Elizabeth Lease said she is afraid the dogs in her neighborhood might attack again. “I don’t want vicious dogs running around,” she said.
Lease said she misses Foxy who liked to sit in her lap and watch television with her in the evenings.
“Of course I’m upset that he was killed. He was my buddy,” she said.
She said she and her husband owned two other small toy-breed dogs. These dogs also met violent demises. She suspects the neighbor’s dogs were behind the deaths of the two black Pomeranians, but she didn’t witness the incidents and cannot say for sure.
All the Leases know is that one of their dogs was killed and their cow injured by a group of dogs allowed to run wild in the countryside.
Reporter Delania Trigg may be contacted at email@example.com
Dogs roaming the rural areas of Cooke County can sometimes be a pain. Literally.