A pack of dogs has been attacking cattle and other animals on farms in Dallas County near the Niangua River, according to Henry Thiesen, chief deputy of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, and Jim Portman, a cattle rancher.

They told the Reflex Monday that there have been reports of up to six dogs being part of a pack causing havoc and damage. Several people have called the sheriff’s department to report the incidents. At this point no one knows whether these dogs are owned by someone or whether they are feral.

They are urging people to call the sheriff’s office at (417) 345-2441 if they have seen the pack of dogs and know who any of them belong to. Also, they should report incidents to the department.

Portman is involved because he has had cattle on his farm attacked and wants to figure out how to solve the problem. One night he saw two large white dogs threatening his cattle, but it was so foggy he was unable to see them well.

“I confronted them, and there may have been more dogs that I wasn’t able to see,” he said.

The two men said the center of the activity appears to be near the Niangua River from the Lone Rock area to the Steelman Bridge on Steelman Road. They said the dogs seem to be in a wide area, making a circle around the river.

Thiesen said Portman was the first person to contact the sheriff’s department concerning the problem on the morning of Aug. 24. 

“There have been five calves killed that we know of at this time,” Thiesen said, “and one person said four of his cats were killed.”

One rancher reportedly had a couple of steers that were “beefed up” and ready to take to the sale barn. However, they were attacked by dogs and damaged so severely that he couldn’t put them up for sale.

Portman said that some dogs had gotten his cattle so scared that they tore down four fences and three gates, and the dogs killed a 400-pound steer.

“They came back several nights later and attacked again,” he said.

Thiesen emphasized that if the dogs don’t belong to anybody and they are living off cattle, “there’s no telling what they might do.” Even humans, including children, could be in danger.

“The more we talk with people, we also discover that a lot of goats and chickens have been lost,” Portman said. “Dogs killing cattle is an upgrade. It takes a lot of force to kill a large steer.”

At first Portman thought it was a mountain lion attacking his cattle, but Missouri Department of Conservation officials reviewed the reports and said that was not the case.

“I was skeptical, but now that several people have reported seeing dogs - and even shooting at them - I believe the culprits are dogs,” he said.

Thiesen emphasized that if these dogs are owned by somebody, it is their responsibility to keep them penned up.

“There are no leash laws in the county,” he said, “but you are responsible for what your dogs do. There could be criminal or civil cases against you.”

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