Don’t get our goats

Vegetation-eating animals deserve better safety from dogs

It only sounds like you’ve heard this story before.

 

Dogs have killed several goats that were being kept by local government to eat overgrown vegetation in overgrown retention and detention ponds.

The most recent incident occurred early Tuesday morning. Dogs dug under a fence at the Bradley Court retention pond and went after the seven goats quartered there. The dogs killed three goats, and two more goats were so badly injured they had to be euthanized.

It also happened in 2015, near the retention pond at the Mitchell Place subdivision – almost identically: Dogs dug under a fence and attacked. That time, five goats were killed, three had to be euthanized and four had to be treated for injuries.

In Grovetown, they use goats, too. But in 2016, two dogs got inside the fence at the Old Berzelia Road retention pond and killed and ate the goat the city kept there for brush control.

At a casual glance, you might take this to mean that goat programs – begun locally in 2014 to control hard-to-manage vegetation – are a failure.

It’s not a failure. The program is doing fine. About one year into Augusta’s goat experiment, it saved the city more than $21,000. Having goats on the payroll is much cheaper than retaining subcontractors to do the same work.

The goats need better protection than they’ve been getting.

The failure lies chiefly with dog owners. These dogs dug under fences to get in. That probably means they dug under other fences to get out.

The solution could be as simple as putting a sizable L-footer at the base of all fencing. That’s where you bend a good bit of the base of your fence perpendicularly, in an L shape, to protect the ground.

Why not a redundant fence? Build a fence within a fence, just enough distance apart to keep a dog from successfully digging a second hole. It might even keep a dog trapped until it can be retrieved – and its owner found.

Plenty of solutions are out there. It’s up to local governments to find out what will work best.

And it’s up to dog owners to quit being irresponsible and start reining in their unpredictable animals – for everyone’s safety.

Next time, it might not be goats. Children play in fenced yards, too.

 

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