Dogs slaughter herd of ewes

Reward offered for information leading to dog owners

Gene Fernandez stands in the corral within which 13 surviving ewes are kept after two dogs attacked his herd Dec. 20-23.

Photo by Jennie McGhan
Gene Fernandez stands in the corral within which 13 surviving ewes are kept after two dogs attacked his herd Dec. 20-23.


Trying to coax an injured ewe to get up off the ground, Gene Fernandez pays special attention to her injured front leg.

— No information has yet been shared regarding who owns two dogs that slaughtered more than 40 head of sheep on Factory Road just more than two weeks ago.

Local sheep rancher Gene Fernandez is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the identity of the “irresponsible” dog owners and restitution.

Two sheep were killed by the dogs the night of Dec. 20. The next morning, Fernandez said, “… was the big slaughter.”

He and his daughter witnessed two dogs, a big, black Rottweiler and a light brown German Shepherd mix, mauling the pregnant ewes.

“The Rottweiler was the leader,” Fernandez said.

“Right now, its dogs 37, sheep zero,” he said, adding he believes the death toll will rise because the remainder of his ewes are stressed and traumatized.

“They aren’t doing very well,” Fernandez said, noting stress and trauma keeps them from eating. Some were also mauled, and he is trying to keep them from succumbing to their injuries. That means he has to personally feed and water them, as well as administer antibiotics.

The front legs were a favorite target of the dogs, leaving many of the ewes lame and unable to move around.

The ewes were all due to give birth in February, leaving him at an estimated $12,000 loss.

The ewes, however, could have birthed lambs for as many as five more years, placing the loss at closer to between $60,000 and $70,000.

Fernandez has been raising sheep for 60 years, but his family name has been in the business sine 1915 when his father immigrated from Spain to Kittitas.

With just a few ewes remaining — a baker’s dozen on Jan. 3 — and more expected to succumb to their injuries, Fernandez would need to rebuild the herd from scratch.

That is not something he believes he will do.

For now, the emphasis is on finding out who to hold accountable for the dogs’ marauding ways.

“The biggest problem is they (the dogs) come onto the property when it is still dark,” Fernandez said, explaining the killing of his sheep took place between 3 and 7 a.m.

If they return, he can legally shoot the dogs “… so long as they are on my property,” he said.

In the meantime, Fernandez and the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office are hoping the owners of the dogs will either come forward or someone will help identify the owners.

“The sheriff’s office is doing all it can,” Fernandez said. “It’s next to impossible.”

The reason it is difficult, he said, is dogs have a large area range.

“The Rottweiler is easy to identify… the neighbors have seen it wandering the road,” Fernandez said.

He is confident the dogs have owners because they appear well-fed, he said.

Anyone with information can call the sheriff’s office at 509-574-2500.


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