Friday, June 4, 2010

Sheep Killed By Attacking Pit Bulls

Two unlicensed pit bull dogs are accused of killing as many as 20 sheep at a farm in Huron County’s Rubicon Township.
Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson said Carol Roggenbuck, who was boarding the sheep for a Port Hope farmer, saw two pit bull dogs attack the herd on their Rasmey Road property just after 8 p.m. Thursday.
Roggenbuck said she was able to scare the dogs away before calling police.
A deputy searched the area and found the suspected dogs at a home approximately one mile away from the farm. Hanson said the deputy noticed blood on of the dogs and that they both "smelled like a gutted animal.”
The homeowner told the deputy that his two 2-year-old male pit bulls did in fact run away earlier in the night.
The animals were confined and transported to the Thumb Animal Shelter to be held while charges are being sought.


Update June 5, 2010 1:05am - MLive reports that the number of sheep killed was "at least 32".
The following article, by Gus Burns of The Saginaw News, provides more detail:

Loose dogs in Huron County accused in slaying of 32 sheep
RUBICON TWP. — A pair of 2-year-old unlicensed and frenzied male pit bulls slaughtered at least 32 sheep Thursday at a farm in Huron County’s Rubicon Township near Port Huron, Huron County sheriff’s officials say.
Huron County deputies responded to Carl and Carol Roggenbuck’s 180-acre property after Carol Roggenbuck told police she witnessed two dogs “viciously attacking the sheep” about 8:30 p.m.
The sheep belong to Robert W. Gaffke, 42, of Port Hope, who was renting the land from the Roggenbuck’s for pasture. He said he lost about a third of his flock.
“It was vicious,” Gaffke said. “They would just rip the throat out and then move to the next one.... With the little ones, they would crush their head in their mouths.”
He said the herd was unharmed as of 6 p.m. but Carol Roggenbuck realized there was trouble two hours later when bloody and injured sheep began running toward the barn on the property.
Gaffke estimates the attack lasted 30 to 45 minutes before Roggenbuck scared the dogs away and called police.
The responding deputy “saw blood on one of the dogs and they both smelled like gutted animals,” sheriff’s officials said.
Police tracked the animals to their owner’s home about a mile away on Lakeshore. Gaffke said the owner, who surrendered the animals to the sheriff’s department, “was very good to work with,” and Gafffke doesn’t plan to press charges if he is reimbursed for the attack. 
Neighbors have pitched in to bottle-feed the orphaned sheep, Gaffke said.
He said the dogs’ owner told deputies the animals ran away about 7:30 p.m., were “very-well natured for being pit bulls, and never hurt anyone.”
Gaffke said the attack has further solidified his opinion of the breed.
“Wake up, people,” he said. “Choosing a pit bull for a pet is unwise.”

Update July 9, 2010 11:21am - The following article is by Stacy Langley, Huron Daily Tribune

Pit bull owner may have to pay nearly $17,000

The owner of the two pit bulls that allegedly attacked and killed a herd of sheep last month in Rubicon Township is now learning just how much restitution he may have to pay.

Huron County Prosecutor Timothy J. Rutkowski charged Matthew Leese, 25, of Port Hope, with one count of having an unlicensed dog and a second count of having a stray dog. Both are misdemeanor charges that carry a possible penalty of up to 90 days in jail.

Rutkowski said he’s also seeking that Leese pay $16,700 in restitution to the owner of the sheep— Robert Gaffke, of Port Hope.

Leese turned himself in to the Huron County Sheriff’s Office in mid-June and was arraigned on the charges.

Rutkowski said indicated four of the sheep were wounded in the attack and Gaffke reportedly was attempting to nurse those animals back to health, while 19 female lambs, 22 males and 10 ewes were allegedly killed by the two pit bulls on June 3. Initial police reports following the attack by the dogs indicated 20 sheep were killed.

“It appears the dogs went from sheep to sheep tearing at their heads and face area,” Rutkowski said.

In June, Leese was released on bond set by the court at $1,000/10 percent. A pretrial date is set for Aug. 5 in district court. Leese will be represented by Bad Axe attorney Chris Boyle.

As for the dogs, Rutkowski said both pit bulls (approximately 2 years of age) remain confined at the Thumb Animal Shelter near Elkton. Rutkowski is seeking the court grant permission to have the dogs destroyed.

Update August 13, 2010 4:41pm - The following article is from

Pit bull owner pleads guilty after dogs kill sheep

A Port Hope man has pleaded guilty to two violations of dog laws after his two pit bulls escaped and killed a herd of sheep in Michigan's rural Thumb region.
The Bay City Times reports Friday that 25-year-old Matthew Leese pleaded last week to having a stray dog and unlicensed dog. Huron County Prosecutor Timothy Rutkowski said Leese agreed to pay restitution and put the dogs down.
Leese's pit bulls killed more than 20 sheep June 3 that were being boarded on a farm in Rubicon Township, about 70 miles northeast of Saginaw.
Leese is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 3.

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