10/31/2014

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Lower Valley livestock owners on dog watch

Lower Valley livestock owners on dog watch
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Silbury Hills Alpaca farm in Sunnyside is an agro-tourism stopping point in the Lower Valley where people pick peaches in the fall and get up close and personal with these animals.

It's typically a quiet place, but a violent dog attack last month stunned owners and killed four of their alpacas.

"We have had the occasional coyote attack and a few stray dog attacks on our chickens before, but nothing this vicious," said Silbury Hill Alpacas Owner Bob Cathel.

Animal Control says this family is far from alone; calls for dog attacks come in every day.

The Podvins brought in guard dogs to prevent another deadly attack but KIMA learned the family didn't stop there.

In many ways, alpacas are defenseless against attacks. When their 5-foot fence did little to keep a stray dog out, the owners decided to come together and think of a proactive way to protect their animals.

Cathel's son Anthony Podvin set up a website called Sunnyside Dog Watch. It's a first-of-its-kind forum for the Lower Valley, where farmers and neighbors work together to report dog attacks and share information.

"We didn't know how pervasive this problem was," said Podvin. "We didn't realize this dog had already attacked other livestock. And, so I think it's important that we coordinate as a community."

By pinpointing where the attacks happen, they hope to warn others what's happening in the area and better protect animals. This, as the family talks about doubling its livestock.

Protecting these animals means protecting their livelihood.

The family says it hopes to eventually use the forum to help raise money for Animal Control to help the county better deal with stray animals.
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