CALCUTTA - A Gipner Street man whose pet goat was killed on his property a week ago is concerned that it could just as easily have been a child or elderly person which fell prey to the marauding wolf-dog that ultimately had to be shot by St. Clair Township police.
James Davis was at work more than an hour away just before 7:30 a.m. last Friday when his frantic girlfriend called him to report one of his three pet goats, Calli, was being attacked by either wolves, coyotes or large dogs.
"She didn't know what to do. They got (the goat) at the back porch and dragged it 100- to 150-feet past the goat pen," Davis recalled, saying his girlfriend began screaming at the attacking animals, beating on the walls in an attempt to distract them, and calling 911.
Meanwhile, Davis' other two goats, Boots and Zana, had run off when the first goat was grabbed.
"If my girlfriend hadn't been here, I can't imagine what I would have come home to," Davis admitted.
When township officers arrived on the scene, their first report at 7:34 a.m. was that dogs were "eating at a goat."
Calls were made to the county dog warden, but at 7:54 a.m., three shots were fired by Patrolman Scott Mick, who reported one of the attacking animals was dead, while the others ran off.
Davis said this week he was advised by police that the animal they shot had turned aggressively toward Mick, but that policy did not allow him to shoot the others since they had not turned on him.
The previous night, township police had responded to a call of two wolves being seen near the intersection of Annesley Road and state Route 267, but an investigating officer did not run across them at that time.
In recent months, other police radio traffic has indicated officers in Liverpool Township were called to investigate roaming wolves in the Irish Ridge and state Route 267 area.
Whether or not these were the same animals is unknown.
Police Chief Don Hyatt said it was his understanding the animal shot by Patrolman Mick was a full-blooded wolf, but the other two were wolf hybrids. He was not immediately aware of the owners' names, and Mick could not be reached for comment Thursday.
A spokesman at the dog warden's office said earlier this week that the animal shot was a wolf hybrid and that it was licensed as such. She said its owner did not own the other dogs involved that day.
Although Davis reported a deputy dog warden who arrived on the scene just before 9 a.m. took the carcass of the dead wolf hybrid, the spokesman said, "We did not take the dog."
The spokesman said she believed the dog warden had spoken to the owner of the wolf hybrid but not to Davis and that the owner had not been cited.
"The owner is making arrangements to make restitution (to Davis)," she said.
However, Davis said that, while he suspects who owns the animal that killed his goat, he isn't sure and no one has contacted him.
"These animals are harmless. These are pets, not livestock. My daughter got them 10 years ago; she just graduated college. I'm hurt inside. Shouldn't I at least get an apology?" he asked, standing near the freshly-dug grave of Callie as Boots and Zana grazed nearby.
He said the surviving goats have been skittish since the incident.
While he has a chain-link pen and dog houses for the goats, Davis admitted they often run at large, but never leave his property. Saying he often hears coyotes in the woods surrounding his home, he said, "I've been here 22 years. They just roam around here. I always thought (the coyotes might attack the goats), but I never thought it would be someone's pets that did it."
Mainly, Davis is concerned that what happened to his pet could happen to a child or an elderly person if they happen upon these animals, if they continue to roam at large.
The dog warden could not be reached Thursday afternoon for more information, including the wolf hybrid's owner's name.
Wolf hybrids result from a mating between a wolf and a dog. According to an online legal firm Keller & Keller, there are currently about 1 million wolf hybrids in the United States.
Online statistics from DogsBite.org reported that, between 1982 and 2011, wolf hybrids were responsible for 84 incidents of bodily harm, 19 deaths and 48 maimings. They compose .001 percent of the nation's dog population.
In comparison, the statistics indicated pit bull terriers, which constitute .033 percent of the nation's dog population were responsible for 1,970 incidents of bodily harm, 207 deaths and 1,093 maimings.
German shepherd dogs accounted for 89 incidents of bodily harm, 12 deaths and 54 maimings, making up .014 percent of the nation's dog population.
In all three breeds, children were the primary victims.