Stray dogs kill farm animals at West Valley charter school

Jun 7, 2018, 5:27 PM | Updated: 6:17 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Emotions were raw at a farm-based charter school in West Valley City where two stray dogs attacked and killed some of the animals over the past week. Six animals were killed and four others wounded in two separate attacks at Roots Charter High School.

The high school students were learning hard lessons in running a farm.

A ewe junior Sarah Sherwin owned and cared for was among the animals killed in the attack.

“Everybody just falls in love with the animals,” she said.

The students own these animals, so there’s a financial loss when one is killed. Just as important, the students bond with these animals. They didn’t just lose school projects, they lost friends.

“I just started crying,” said Sarah. “We got here and our sheep are just completely torn up. We had to have a vet come in and put two of them down while we held them.”

Goats and sheep were grazing in a back field when two stray dogs attacked a week ago, and again Tuesday night. Two goats, two sheep and two chickens were killed. Four ewes were badly injured, and getting treatment Thursday.

Sherwin grew up in the city, but said farming was now in her blood.

“A lot of the students just need to know what it’s like to actually take care of something, to be responsible for another living thing,” she said.

“It really brings us down,” said junior Josef Sickler. “They come in at night. We can’t really do anything. So, it really just tears us apart.”

“Agriculture is a very risky business,” said agriculture teacher Bill Carpenter. “The truth is there’s no insurance on this.”

Students attend Roots because the farm is their lab. Breeding projects and fair projects become personal and emotional.
“These kids are raising them from babies,” said English teacher Kallie Christensen. “They’re breeding them. They’re going through all the birthing. The last thing you want is them to have the animals ripped away before it’s time.”

“Nothing stays a project when you have to nurture and care for it,” said Carpenter.

The school set up a GoFundMe account for funds to replace the animals and purchase llamas, which are apparently good guard animals.

“Llamas are tough,” said Josef. “They are loud, and don’t take anything from the other animals.

The students were learning how to better protect their livelihood, and cope with emotional loss.

“No matter how these animals lost their lives, it’s the students that we really need to be thinking about right now this time,” said Christensen.

Students caught one of the dogs Tuesday night and turned it over to the Salt Lake County Animal Control Services, which was aware of the other dog.

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Stray dogs kill farm animals at West Valley charter school