Port Alberni resident Roberto Tolfo made a grisly discovery when he drove out to his farm in the Beaufort Range last Friday.
A pack of three dogs was killing six of his seven prized goats, five of whom were pregnant. The seventh goat, a buck, was on another farm for stud duty.
Tolfo owns a 66-acre property near McLean Mill National Historic Site. He raises purebred and mixed goats, as well as peacocks, ducks, chicken and horses. He drives there twice a day to feed and care for the animals. Until Friday, he had only experienced a few instances of cougars and eagles attacking his goats.
When he got out of his car, he saw dogs on top of his goats. One dog had its jaw around the neck of a goat. To escape the attack, one buck jumped from the second floor of a building into a nearby pond and drowned. "The dogs were on a killing spree," Tolfo said. "They were ripping the goats' throats but they did not eat the goats."
He called the RCMP, then asked his daughter Meaghan Wolff to get his gun. Wolff drove out to the entrance of the property to wait for the RCMP to arrive. While she was waiting, her car was surrounded by three dogs.
"They weren't wild dogs. They looked well-fed. One had a chain collar around its neck," she said.
Once Port Alberni RCMP officers arrived, the dogs disappeared into the forest.
Wolff said one dog was a large Rottweiler, while the second was a dark brown multi-coloured dog weighing about 40 pounds and the third was light tan and of the same size. Three days after the attack, blood splatter is all that remains of the goats. Tolfo said he spent seven years building his herd, looking for special characteristics to offer better cheese and meat to his clients. Tolfo estimated his losses at between $3,100 and $3,200.
The incident is similar to what happened last winter to sheep farmer Jan Carter. Dogs killed three of her sheep and gnawed the ears off one sheep.
"Dog owners have to keep their dogs fenced," Carter said. "I still see dogs running around Beaver Creek."
Both Tolfo and Carter blame careless dog owners for the attack. "They think their dogs would never be capable of hurting an animal," Carter said.
The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District has a dangerous-dog bylaw for Sproat Lake and the Beaver Creek area, but it doesn't include the Beaufort Range area. Tolfo said from now on, he will shoot any unknown dog he finds on his property. According to the Ministry of Environment, he has the right to shoot animals to protect his livestock.
The RCMP is asking for the public's assistance in identifying and locating the dogs.