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Owners face charges after dogs slaughter grazing Utah County sheep

Published November 14, 2012 12:10 pm

West Mountain • Weekend attacks claim 18 sheep, six more injured.
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Eighteen sheep are dead and half-dozen more injured after having been attacked by a pack of dogs in Utah County's West Mountain area.

Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said Wednesday that the owners of the four dogs likely will face charges for allowing vicious dogs to run loose, as well as a possible court order to reimburse the owners for their losses — estimated in excess of $20,000.

Deana Jepperson, whose Santaquin family owns the herd attacked by the pack, was furious about the weekend incidents — and the unwillingness of at least one of the dogs' owners to take measures to restrain their pets after being warned earlier.

"On Saturday, we had seven witnesses — including two county deputies — who saw these dogs on my sheep," Jepperson said. "Then again, on Sunday, at least two of the same dogs were seen attacking."

She said that following Saturday's attacks, the owners of two of the dogs were told of the incidents and asked to keep them restrained. However, Jepperson contends, the same animals were seen on the attack again Sunday.

Cannon described the dogs as large family pets ranging from Labrador retriever mixes to a pit bull.

"We've identified the owners of three of the four dogs and intend to file charges," he said. "These were not wild dogs in a pack roaming the mountain, killing to eat. This was indiscriminate killing. They would disable one sheep and then when it quit moving, attack another."

The dogs remained with their owners on Wednesday, pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation, Cannon said. Whether the animals will be relocated or destroyed had not been determined.

While she has initially put losses at $20,000, Jepperson said it was difficult to put a price tag on the damage the dogs caused.

"There's the price of each ewe, the wool lost, the lambs they won't have — and ewes can give birth to one to three lambs at a time over a three to five year [life span]," she said. "There's no telling how long it will take for the injured sheep to recover, whether they will be too stressed" to reproduce.

"These sheep are our paycheck, our livelihood. They're what we have to survive on. Right now, it's breeding season, an important time for us," Jepperson added. "People and their dogs. They need to keep them under control, keep an eye on them."

The identities of the dogs' owners were not released, since the investigation was still under way.





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