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Well known llama killed by loose dogs

Posted: June 12, 2011 - 10:15am
M. Scott Moon
“Obama the Llama” is pictured in August 2010. The Martin family said roaming dogs killed the animal earlier this month.

A popular farm animal met an unfortunate end at Diamond M Ranch Resort last week.

Obama the Llama was fatally injured by three dogs on June 4.

“They chased him down and mauled him to death,” said owner Carol Martin.

Obama was still alive when Martin found him, so Martin called a veterinarian. The vet came out and treated the wounded Obama.

Martin said he swelled up and suffocated.

“It’s really, really gruesome,” Martin said.

Obama was born a year ago. He was black and white — and his mom died while giving birth — so he was christened Obama the llama with no mama, Martin said.

“He was a friendly little guy,” Martin said. “He thought dogs were his friends. He was in the parades, he was in the newspaper.”

After his mom died, Obama nursed on a Nubian nanny goat. He ran with a pack of goats, one big state champion that Martin bought at the fair in Ninilchik last summer, and a couple of miniatures. One of the miniatures was missing Saturday when Martin found Obama.

That goat was found dead on Wednesday, also a casualty of the dogs running free.

Martin’s story is more common than wildlife and law enforcement officials would like.

Wildlife technician Larry Lewis, who works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said that his office is among those that respond when dogs don’t get along with other animals.

“It’s relatively common,” he said.

There’s no one agency that has sole jurisdiction over incidents like the one at Diamond M last weekend.

“We all are responsive to those types of calls,” Lewis said.

Usually the Alaska State Troopers or the Alaska Department of Fish and Game respond, but it can also be a federal issue. In cities, city police or animal control are often responsible. Fish and Game refers calls about dogs chasing domestic animals to the troopers, because the department mostly deals with wild animals, he explained.

Both Kenai and Soldotna have animal control ordinances designed, in part, to prevent such events. But Diamond M is outside of city limits, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough doesn’t have leash laws.

“It’s relatively self-policing,” Lewis said. His department recommends that people keep their dogs constrained.

“And then be cautious,” he said.

Martin said it’s unfortunate that people don’t understand the need to confine their dogs, particularly in the spring.

“They become wild predators,” he said.

In the last 40 years, Martin has seen more than a few dogs harassing other animals.

“It’s happened over and over again.”

Last year, Martin saw some dogs harassing caribou out on the Kenai River flats, not far from the ranch. As allowed by Alaska statute, Martin shot at them to break up the attack. The dogs left, some running, at least one hobbling.

“That three-legged dog was one of the three that came up here,” Martin said, referring to the three that killed Obama.

Dogs on the run

Martin said he thinks their needs to be more awareness of what happens when dogs aren’t properly contained.

“People deny that their dog is three miles from home causing trouble,” Martin said.

Lewis agreed with Martin that ignorance is a problem.

“People don’t know their dog is doing that,” Lewis said.

But neither sees that as an excuse.

“Bottom line in all of this is keeping your dog in line at all times,” Lewis said.

Martin said it is just a small percentage of dog owners letting their dogs run free and cause trouble, but that minority can still do damage.

Martin said he’s even seen dog owners deny that a dog was shot due to its own misconduct, and claimed that someone shot the dog and moved it from the owners’ property.

Sometimes he gets blamed for dogs he didn’t shoot, he said.

“I’ve only killed three dogs in 40 years,” he said.

Despite the complaints of any disgruntled dog owners, it’s legal in Alaska to shoot a dog harassing other animals.

There is an Alaska statute that deals with dogs running wild.

In a nutshell, it comes into play when a dog is harassing some other animal.

“Any person may lawfully kill the dog when it is at large,” Lewis said.

The shooter is supposed to look for the owner and give it the opportunity to restrain their dog, but that isn’t practical when a dog is terrorizing a moose, and it’s understood that the dog can be shot straight-away in such instances.

“Anyone may stop that attack if they see it happening,” Lewis said.

Circle of life

Lewis said the harassment is not a one-way street.

“It’s not always the dog or the dog owners initiating the negative interaction,” he said.

Sometimes moose will harass a dog that has been tied up and the dog has no recourse.

Dogs that are tied up need a place to get away if a moose comes to the yard.

“So dog owners need to be aware of that, too,” Lewis said.

Sometimes that stems from a bad experience the moose had with another dog.

“It’s a big circle,” he said. “Nothing exists in a bubble at all.”

There are other ways that dogs and wildlife can get tangled up.

“It’s not strictly dogs chasing wildlife that we deal with,” he said.

Lewis said that people have actually been mauled by brown bears while hiking when their dog ran off, got tangled up with a bear and brought it back to the owner.

The important thing is to keep dogs and wildlife apart for everyone’s safety, Lewis said.

Martin said he’d like to see more awareness, and fewer dogs running wild, in the future.

But that won’t bring Obama back, so he’s making do.

Martin skinned Obama the llama and salvaged some of the prime cuts.

“Llama and goat are comparable, and they’re better than spring lamb,” he said.

The death means that Martin couldn’t bring Obama to the Stanley Ford event, where Obama was scheduled to entertain guests.

Now he’ll have to replace Obama with a different animal “and I guess tell everybody that Obama the llama got killed,” he said.

But there are still signs of life at Diamond M.

During a farm tour on Wednesday, a new llama was born, a black-and-white baby boy, like Obama.

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akdave 06/12/11 - 11:49 am

It's time to start shooting dogs folks. If the owners can't keep them under control, Alaska law allows us to kill them. No more "poor baby" attitudes towards loose dogs, if you own one, keep it under control!

steelhorse 06/12/11 - 03:47 pm

I'm so saddened by this. I've been keeping tabs on this little guy since he was born. I'm sad for the Martins', the DMR family and their followers and campers this is evidence that we have a glaring problem with loose dogs running rampant harassing other domestic and wild animals.

northroader 06/12/11 - 06:36 pm
Loose dogs are a big problem

Loose dogs are a big problem out in north Kenai. People seem to think it is alright to dump their cast always out here. Almost every day you can drive down the roads and see a pack of dogs running down the side of the road.
I have also experienced my dog being trampled by a moose while she was tied on a run. She had nowhere to go. And I was told by Fish & Wildlife that I would have to have a good reason to shoot the moose. And it would have had to be videotaped for proof the moose was killing my dog.
What concerns me about this story is it gives a green light for anyone to shoot a dog that happens to be in their yard digging in the trash that wasn't properly taken care of. Or any other reason they see fit. And nowhere in this story did I see the Martins mention that they had actually seen the dogs attacking Obama the Llama. We do live in bear country. And more than once I have seen coyote.
So I think we need to actually witness the attacks before we can blame the neighborhood dogs. Maybe if that would of been the case then the old black lab that never hurt anything would still be alive today.

aspiecelia 06/13/11 - 01:31 am
Soldotna animal control

I don't know about Kenai, in Soldotna animal control only has 1.5 staff. They can barely take care of the animals. There is some descrepancy about who to report animal problems to. Animal control says the police are supposed to take the calls and then she goes by sometime during the day and checks for messages. It is clear after living here a while it is very difficult to get something done about problem animals.

kenairiverbandit 06/13/11 - 06:50 am
lets tell it like it should

lets tell it like it should be.....the dogs dont deserve the bullet....they are like a computer, controlled and maintained by others....if your kids look at porn on your computer, can you really blame the kids.....who is really in control????? stop placing blame and start taking personal responsibility

comeonpeople 06/13/11 - 08:47 am
Come on People

Thank you Lets tell it like it Should!!!
From a pet owner who has been on both sides of the fence...
The dogs are not to blame, yet they are the ones to pay with their lifes! If your kids wander off and do damage to some ones property, who are the ones to blame??? who gets the bill?? The parents.
If you own an animal that you know wanders, build a fence, put it on a run, or re home the animal to some one that will. Owners need to step up and take personal responsibility. And always spay or neuter your pets!!!

bakerboy4300 06/13/11 - 10:38 am

shoot the owners i say the dog is just being a dog and the owner is being the ass.

msjinxie 06/13/11 - 10:59 am
Roaming pit bulls ambushed my

Roaming pit bulls ambushed my Dog and I on our OWN property...WE NEED Borough Animal control! The death of this nice llama says it all. This could have been kids...All of those who let your animal run should be ashamed of yourselves. Bad part is, the animal pays in the end, not the idiot OWNER. Locked and loaded here. Im done with talkin.

aspiecelia 06/13/11 - 03:32 pm
Yes, the owners are the main problem

Your are right, "lets tell it like it should". The owners of the dogs are the problem. There are lots of people who think not only their dogs, but also their children should be allowed ot roam and do random acts of mayhem. It is unfortunate that some people are like this, the animals and children are the ones who suffer the most in the end from this. They are the reason we need to have staff to give them citations and enforce animal control laws which in other places I have lived have changed the behavior of pet owners. A dog will act like a dog, but can be trained or kept at home.

cheapersmokes 06/14/11 - 09:06 am
Obama is dead! ^5

I must admit that when I first saw this story and noticed that Obama got killed....I got excited and actually said a little prayer for his illegal immigrant ass to be sent to hell to sew volleyballs for all eternity. :-)

Then I noticed it was a pet llama and was attached by wild dogs. This is so irresponsible on the part of those dogs former owners it should be criminal. Come on people treat your animals like you'd want to be treated.

My sympathy goes out to the llama's owners and many friends he has made in his young life.

potomac 06/14/11 - 09:29 am
loose dog owners should be

loose dog owners should be fined and sent back to the city they came from, banished for good from out side the city limits, then laws and enforcement need to be applied outside the city limits, if a dog isn't in someones immediate control by voice or leash, fine them, loose dogs open season year round no licence required, shoot, trap, whatever means, put pressure on the elected officials to in act laws, maybe some day the caribou on the flats will quit loosing all their calves every year

kenai-king 06/14/11 - 09:19 pm
Loose Dogs

I say shoot every loose dog you see because thats the only thing the owners understand. And then they will start keeping them at home.

northroader 06/16/11 - 01:26 pm
wild animals

Let me point this out again. No where in the article do I see that the Martins had actually seen the dogs mauling their animals!! My guess is that they assume it was a dog. And they will shoot any dog that just happens to be on their property. Why? Because dogs love to eat horse poop!
I think it was probably a bear or wolf or coyote that attacked their Obama.

comeonpeople 06/16/11 - 02:51 pm

So what, you just murder every dog that wanders on the wrong property??? How justified is that?? I pray you never have an dog that accidentally gets loose. I'm not saying loose dogs aren't a problem, but shooting on site is just ridiculous. I agree some people shouldn't be allowed to have pets, but some idiots shouldn't be allowed to own guns either!! There are more humane ways to handle the situation. Start with the owners.

kenai-king 06/17/11 - 02:22 pm

If I wanted a dog on my property I'd have one, keep your mutts at home or lose them its that simple. What part of control your own dogs don't you understand.

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