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country livin'

I live in the country, and, like a bunch of my neighbors, I keep chickens. There’s a guy who lives about two miles down the road who has a big old Australian shepherd who, like most dogs in the area, runs loose. He’s a nice enough dog—plays well with other dogs, gets along with kids, is generally well behaved.

Except that several times he has broken into local chicken coops and killed chickens. This week he killed four of my roosters and four of my laying hens. It’s the second time he’s killed my chickens. The last time this happened, me and another of the dog’s victims confronted the owner and told him he’d better control his dog. That’s not an idle threat—in the country, chicken-killing is a capital offense. My neighbor threatened to shoot the dog if he came around his chickens again, and I backed him up. The owner offered no apologies for his dog’s behavior and seemed unwilling to do anything about it.

Well, here we are again, and now the dog is is the back of my truck, and he’s too sweet to shoot. But he can’t stay around this area, because someone’s going to shoot him. Must I return him to his owner? Can I find him a new home? Or turn him over to the shelter—we’re he may be be euthanized if he’s not adopted?

—Plumb Stumped

Country Girl says: We had this problem when I was a kid—we had to call the dog warden on our neighbor (whose dog was not only killing our chickens but also biting children), and they took the animal away. Take him to the shelter. He’s a problem animal. Tell the shelter employees the truth—he’s fine with people and kids, but can’t be trusted around livestock. If he’s as cute as you say he’ll be adopted. It’s a reasonably common problem and back before the only people keeping livestock anymore were hippies and half the people living in the country were suburbanite douchebags, people knew what to do. Most rural townships do have leash laws and the owners are clearly in violation. You are within your rights to have the animal destroyed, and if that is what the shelter has to do, then so be it.

Alternately I would contact the police and file a report. Photographic evidence would be helpful, but material evidence—your obviously dog-mauled chicken corpses—would be convincing as well, I’d say. Killing of livestock is no laughing matter. Where I come from, laying hens are livelihood, and in an industry with profit margins as razor-thin as farming, you don’t fuck around with “cute” nuisance animals.

The Practical Cogitator says: Put the dog on a leash and tie him to his master’s house. If you see him run loose again, take him to a shelter. Put a fence up around your chickens and roosters. Call the Acme company and ask them to send you some sure fire remedies. Keep your eye out for Wyle E. Coyote, and watch closely over Foghorn Leghorn. I’m sure that’s your prize rooster, right? Give me a break. ”A dog at my chickens?” What’s up with that, doc?

Dr. Sigmund Fraud says: Actually, Practical Cogitator might be onto something here. The first step is getting that dog tied up on a leash so he can’t stray far from his doghouse. Next, rent a large rooster suit. Then, select a small plank of wood, say two feet long. Wait for a lazy summer afternoon when the dog is sleeping in his doghouse, with his tail sticking out the doorway. Put on the suit and sneak into the neighbor’s yard, carrying the plank. Be stealthy, but if you like you can hum the tune to “Camptown Ladies” quietly, to yourself.

When you get right there behind the dog, pick him up by his tail until his hind legs come up off the ground and—in one quick motion—smack him about eight times in rapid succession across the butt. Be prepared to drop the plank and run like hell. All you have to do is make it past the limit of his leash, and you’re home free—that barnyard dog’ll land on his back, not knowing what hit him. A few experiences like this should cure the dog of chasing after chickens.

In the event a slobbering little weasel starts snooping around your chickens, your best bet is to pour syrup on the dog, tear apart a feather pillow and shake the contents on him. Then find a red rubber glove to pull over the top of the dog’s head. Go back to the weasel, point out the huge rooster living in the neighbor’s yard, and let nature take its course.

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