In the last eight months a Ponoka County couple has lost three alpacas to attacks by an unknown dog.
Kevin and Rema Marney have been farming with a small number of alpacas for the last 15 years but recent attacks on their animals by an unknown dog has forced the couple to put down several of their alpacas. The issue started last November, explained Rema.
She came home on Remembrance Day to find one alpaca had been attacked and severely wounded and another had died as a result. She said the attacks are so severe that one of the alpacas hind quarters were ripped up. In an attempt to heal the animal the wounds were sewn up but the animal died the next day.
When asked if the issue could be because of coyotes, Kevin said his neighbour saw a dog close to the alpacas during one incident. Kevin said he has found dog fur in the southeast side of the 20-acres property in several spots along the fence. “We’ve lived here 15 years and never had an issue with coyotes,” he said.
One of the alpacas had just been healed after five years of therapy when it was attacked. Rema recalls another time where she found dog footprints along the outside of their barn after a snow storm, which is where the alpacas are now placed at night for their protection. She says coyote prints have a longer base than dogs.
She has seen a dog around during other times when there was a commotion and it has always been close to the barn and house. In one case Kevin said the wounds were so bad large holes of skin were ripped up. He feels strongly that there is a dog on the loose that is terrorizing his alpacas.
With so many acreages in the area, Kevin says it has been hard to find the dog or its owners. Calls to the police and Fish and Wildlife leaves him few options as the latter can only step in if there is a wild animal attacking the alpacas. A call to Ponoka County confirmed that he can use a firearm on the dog so long as it is to protect the alpacas and proper safety steps are taken.
For Kevin and Rema, their hope is to raise some awareness and see the attacks stop.
“To me, I hope the owner of the dog will have enough integrity to come forward,” said Kevin.
He is concerned that the dog will continue to terrorize their alpacas and they will face not only worry over their animals but their deaths and veterinary costs.
“It’s the broken heart and the loss of the animal and the fact that they suffer,” added Rema.
For Kevin the biggest challenge is that the attacks are occurring on his land. The alpacas are not leaving his property or going out of bounds.
“We just want it to stop,” stated Rema.