Josh Martin takes the reins with Kiana Beddow, in pink, and Martin's brothers Darius and Mathias as they take a stroll with a few of the Martin family's pet llamas Friday afternoon, days after stray dogs attacked two llamas on the Martin's Diamond M Ranch property of Kalifornsky Beach Road.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Blair Martin enjoys the ranch lifestyle on his family's 80-acre Diamond M Ranch off Kalifornsky Beach Road, just outside Kenai city limits .
Martin's got a diversity of livestock there. He enjoys watching the cattle and horses graze in the pasture, while closer to the barn he spends time feeding hay and grain to goats, sheep and chickens. There's even some llamas at the Martin place.
Recently the number of these domesticated cousins of a camel dropped at the ranch from eight to seven and may be down to six within the next few days as a result of an attack by stray dogs early last week.
"My emotions were seething," Martin said upon coming home to the grisly scene.
After being notified of the attack by a tenant staying at the ranch, Martin followed a sound he described as the moaning cry of an animal to the back of the barn. He was shocked by what he saw.
Two stray dogs were feeding on an almost all-white male llama named Woolly Bear and a chocolate-brown female named Lituya.
"They had chewed them up pretty bad. There were fist-sized chunks of meat bitten out of their hind end, one had its eye hanging out and the dogs were chewing the ears off, all while they were still alive," Martin said.
Upon the presence of a human, the two bloody-mouthed dogs ran off, Martin said. A tenant got a good look at the culprits and described them as two border collie-sized dogs with short coats like a Labrador retriever. One dog was all black, while the other was mostly black with white markings around the face and neck.
"Both (llamas) were mauled severely. Woolly Bear was going to die so we went ahead and put him down. The jury's still out on Lituya. We're not sure if she'll make it or not," Martin said.
If Lituya doesn't survive, Martin said there may be a third casualty as a result of the dog attack, since the llama has a calf that isn't weaned yet.
Martin said this isn't the first time this has happened at his ranch.
"Every year stray dogs come through and kill the chickens and it seems about every other year they kill some of the larger livestock," he said.
Martin said the stray dogs don't just restrict themselves to domestic animals. His home overlooks the Kenai River flats and on numerous occasions he's seen stray dogs attack wild animals.
"They'll go after the caribou, picking off the calves one by one throughout the season," he said.
The dog attacks on his property have caused Martin to utilize strict measures.
"Our policy is to immediately shoot any dog that crosses onto our property," he said.
Martin hates to breed animosity in the neighborhood, but he has to look out for his own, he said.
He said he won't bother Alaska State Troopers with these complaints since he knows they're busy dealing with more than enough human issues and emergencies.
He's also limited in his options, since there is no boroughwide animal control agency and he lives outside city limits, and thus outside the jurisdiction of its animal control agency.
Martin said he doesn't believe governmental agencies should have to be responsible for people's animals anyway.
"I want to be proactive in creating a public awareness campaign that people need to be responsible for their own pets. Dogs can't be running free while people are at work," he said.
Martin said if more people were responsible with there pets, there wouldn't be a need for him to shoot roaming dogs, leaving a family somewhere morning the loss of a pet, and he would no longer have to mourn the loss of his own animals.
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