At first glance, one has to assume it could have happened. A large cattle lot with a fenced alley and concrete catch area could have been the scene of a terrible attack two weeks ago, five miles north of Hillsboro.
A sheriff’s report filed by Richard Enns of Hillsboro the week of Jan. 4, reported a 600-lb. calf was cornered in the lot at 2566 Goldenrod Road, taken down, and killed by a dog.
Enns, who owns 64 cow-calf pairs, said he had to file the report in order to try to collect money for the lost calf, valued at over $900, but he didn’t think it would do any good. This wasn’t the first time the sheriff had been called because of dog problems at the farm where his mother lived, he said.
“Those dogs are over here all the time,” Enns said. “There are two of them, one a Pit Bull and the other one her inbred offspring. My mom heard a great commotion out here and called me. They cornered a weaned heifer in the catch area, killed it, and ate it. There was blood splattered everywhere.”
The dog-in-question’s owner, Marjory Huffman, and her grandson, Robert Malone, who live just yards away from the Enns homestead, saw the situation through completely different eyes.
“I’ve had Missy for two years and she is the sweetest dog ever,” Huffman said. “She loves the other animals on this farm and never bothers them. In fact, we are always feeding the neighbor’s cats over here and she never chases them or anything. She knows what belongs and what doesn’t and actually keeps the coyotes away from the cattle. She is very loyal and protective, a very good dog.”
Enns said he did not actually see the attack, but there were dog tracks all over the pen and enough evidence that he was convinced he knew exactly what had happened.
“This has happened before,” he said. “Our neighbors just don’t take care of their dogs. I don’t necessarily think the dog is viscous, but she is hungry and now has a litter of puppies to take care of. Pit Bulls have the strongest jaws of any dog. They get excited and go in for the kill. It is just their nature.”
Enns said he had too soft a heart to consider shooting the dog which he believed killed his calf and caused him trouble over the past few months.
“I don’t think she is a bad dog, but any time my mom steps out on the porch to feed her cats, those dogs appear,” he said. “They just take over. I’ve gotten to the point where I am feeding them on our shared property line just to keep them from attacking my other animals.”
Huffman, who works long hours as an LPN at a nursing home in Peabody, said her grandson took care to feed the animals every day. As for the breed and nature of the dogs she owned, she said they were mixed, with very little Pit Bull in them.
“Missy is mostly black lab with just a little Pit Bull,” she said. “Her son from last year is half red Doberman, but he is a good natured dog as well. They spend almost all their time indoors, but we do let them out to exercise sometimes.”
Huffman said that even when Enn’s cattle sometimes got out and walked down the road in front of their house, the dogs she has now never bothered them. Malone said there was a time in 2010 when they did have a dog that was caught chasing cattle, but they got rid of him and they were not aware there had been any problems since.
“This is new to us,” Malone said of the recent Sheriff’s report. “I don’t know why he (Enns) doesn’t just call us and we could talk about it. I had no idea there was a problem with our dogs now.”
Malone, who works full time as a farm and dairy hand at the Penner farm just two miles away, said sometimes their dogs brought home bones from the Enns farm next door to chew on, but the bones were never from something that was freshly killed.
“I think he has cattle that die for other reasons over there sometimes,” he said. “Dogs will be dogs and they like to chew on bones.”
The addition of eight puppies last month added to Enn’s annoyance with the neighboring dogs.
“That dog came over here and had those puppies in one of mom’s barns,” he said. “I work full time away from here and cannot have all those puppies running around here too.”
Malone said he moved the puppies to his grandmother’s barn and put them in a nice secure pen with Missy as soon as he was aware of the problem. That was several weeks ago. Monday afternoon he loaded up the puppies and, along with his younger brother, planned to take them to Colorado where their mom lived.
“She can’t wait to get them up there,” he said. “They are weaned and ready for new homes and she said she had a place for each one of them.”
Malone said the sire of the puppies was a black and white shepherd-type dog that is often seen running in the area.
“I think he belongs to another neighbor to the east,” he said.
Marion County Sheriff Deputy Duane McCarty, who took the original dog attack complaint from Enns and filed it, did not respond to repeated attempts and messages to comment on the case.