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Pack mauls family dog
GATCHEL - If she had been home at the time, she'd probably be in the hospital now, too, Paula Patton said Thursday. She would have rushed outside to protect her dog.
Kasey, a 15-pound Jack Russel-Yorkshire terrier mix and one of three dogs belonging to the Ray and Paula Patton family, was attacked at approximately 4:45 a.m. Wednesday by a pack of large canines they think are wolf-dog hybrids.
"She's going to be at the vet's office at least a week, Ray said. "She was tore up pretty good."
A punctured pancreas is the main issue concerning the veterinarian, he explained. "If she makes it through this week, she'll be alright."
He let the dogs out, like he always does, he said, "but before I had the door closed, she was squalling," Ray said. "It scared me ... I knew something had her."
He shone a flashlight out the back door of his home at 14500 Old Indiana 37 and saw that the animals that had his dog were less than 25 feet away, and others stood between him and them. He ran to another room and got his rifle, he said, then ran into the yard and started shooting. The pack animals ran off.
"Dad's gun was loaded," said 16-year-old daughter Katie, "and it's a good thing because it took five shots to drive them off."
They were back within a half-hour, her father learned. The family was at the vet's office by then, but when they returned from the visit Ray said took an hour-and-a-half, they found a neighbor had killed one.
Ray retrieved his rifle, he said, because the neighbor said a couple of the larger animals had run across his yard again. That neighbor and two others killed four of them.
Paula believes everything that happens has a reason.
"I think if this didn't happen, a child could've got hurt," she said.
"While the females (of the pack) had Kasey surrounded, the males surrounded Lacey," she said, referring to another of their dogs, similar to Kasey.
Kasey ran to the door and Katie grabbed her and put her in the kitchen sink, she said. The larger animal had clamped onto Kasey's back, she said.
"Her back looked like ground beef, the vet said, because it shook her so much," Paula added.
The family had evidence something unusual was in the area before the attack.
"Our dogs have been acting funny for a couple of months," Paula said. "There were some nights they wouldn't go out without me or wouldn't go out at all."
Katie said the family's third dog, Siren, started barking and howling in the home's basement Monday. Because all that's visible of the yard from a window there is a table on the patio, she thinks the pack came that close to get food from a cat's dish.
"Our dogs have a regular bark," her mom said. "This was different."
"She was shaking," Katie said.
It's not uncommon to hear coyotes in the distance, Paula said. Katie said she has seen some, "but if you yell or the dogs bark, they take off."
After the four had been shot, "some man from Kentucky wanted to mount them, so he came and got them," she said. Two more of the wolf-like animals were spotted later, and one neighbor reported something had been trying to get into their duck nest.
Ray was unable to contact a conservation officer the day of the attack because they were in a neighboring county to provide hunter education, said one of them Friday.
"I didn't know until late Wednesday night," Joe Lackey said Friday morning. A fifth animal had been shot by an area resident that morning, he said, and was in the back of his truck for transport to a district biologist in Winslow. He and First Sgt. Phil Schuetter, also a conservation officer, were unable to determine if it was a wolf, and a blood test may be necessary to make the call, Lackey said.
"It's not your normal dog, but it's not something that migrated in. It's owned by somebody, and hasn't been loose too long," he said.
People are concerned about what they can legally do in this kind of situation, Lackey said, but he stressed that shooting animals that pose a threat is legal.
While he was unaware of any reports of wolves in the area, "we've had these type scenarios before, where a pack of dogs is running loose," he said.
If they get a taste of blood, they may want more, he added.
A 2003 report at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Web site noted the agency gets occasional calls from people reporting wolves and other predators, but said most are cases of mistaken identity. A large canine found dead that year in a Randolph County soybean field, however, was indeed a young male gray wolf that had traveled more than 400 miles from its birthplace in northern Wisconsin.
While people are free to protect themselves, their loved ones and property, Lackey doesn't want to see the whole county take up arms.
"It is an issue, but not a major thing," he said. "The public is helping us take care of it," he added, referring to the people who've shot animals.
The blood tests may take several days, he said.