Little Rock, Ark, has recently been plagued by stray dogs, but it was a real shock to the Little Rock Zoo staff when they did their daily inspection about 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday and saw two dogs—described as a Pit Bull and a white and brown Pit Bull mix--had killed four goats, and a sheep and injured several other animals in the children’s farm area.
As the employees tried to approach the dogs, the Pit Bulls quickly squeezed under the chain link fence that surrounds the zoo and ran away.
Little Rock Zoo manager, Mike Blakely, told KATV that this is the first time anything like this has happened, and they are still trying to recover from realizing that these friendly and vulnerable animals had been killed in such a gruesome way. “It is very hard to come to grips with,” he said.
Traps have been put out to try to catch the dogs, and the children’s area will be closed temporarily, said Blakely. The injured zoo animals are receiving veterinary care.
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On October 3, dogs killed farm animals at the Dunbar Community Garden, where a staff member arrived early in the morning and found two dogs eating the garden's two 2-year-old goats named Kid and Play, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Dunbar Gardens is a two-acre outdoor classroom on Chester Street. It allows students to have a hands-on approach to learning, especially when it comes to educating children on the where their food comes from.
Damian Thompson, program coordinator for the Dunbar Community Garden, said. "It's been really brutal. I raised those goats, and the kids interacted with these animals daily."
A new rooster at the garden also was found to have been killed, as well as the garden's rabbit, Mr. Snowflakes, he told the Gazette.
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“These were mixed breed, one looked kind of like a Rottweiler, black with a tan chest, but definitely not a Rottweiler, a lot smaller. The other was definitely a mixed breed as well, all white with some black and brown spots,” he told ArkansasMatters.com.
"This is a school, and that is really freaking us out," said Thompson, "The dogs were here while the kids were waiting to go to school. That's scary."
Thompson told Todaysthv.com dogs are emaciated and likely starving, which is what prompted the attacks.
"We've been trying to explain to the kids that this isn't the animals' fault, that it's really the pet owner's fault for not feeding them and not making sure they're not roaming around," Thompson said.
At the Victory Gardens Project on Valentine Street, garden coordinator Ryan Boswell said that Wednesday morning he discovered the remains of six chickens, four ducks and two rabbits in the attack, leaving him with just three birds.
A neighbor reported seeing two dogs enter the garden and heard the screams of the livestock late Tuesday night.
"This is the first time a wild dog has attacked the flock," he said. "It's a risk you run when you have livestock. I mean, there are predators out there. But to lose so many animals at once ... and if it is the same dogs, they've covered so much ground," Boswell told reporters.
Several downtown residents , in the Governor's Mansion District and in Stifft Station have reported they also found their pets mauled to death by what veterinarians said were large dogs. None of the pet owners saw the animals responsible for the deaths, according to the reports.
A number of pet owners also have speculated that the dogs might be involved in a rash of pet maulings and deaths over the past year or so. Some residents expressed concern for the safety of small children in the various communities, in what appears to be a growing problem of stray/feral dogs.
Tracy Roark, director of Little Rock's Animal Services Department, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he doubts the three attacks were committed by the same dogs.
"We've picked up 60 animals in the last three days alone," he said. "There are a ton of stray animals in this city. And, although all three instances were described as a pair of dogs, the descriptions were different in the zoo instance and in the Dunbar instance."
Roark said several animal control officers were called to the zoo on Thursday and Friday because of sightings of dogs trying to get under the fence after it was repaired. He said the officers chased the dogs through War Memorial Golf Course but lost them when they went through a small hole and crossed over Interstate 630.
"It's super important that people remember not all of these animals are missing pets, and not all of them are friendly," Roark said.