Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

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Sheep dog defends his animals, kills eight coyotes on Ga. farm

Decatur, Georgia — A Great Pyrenees sheep dog is recovering after killing eight coyotes in Georgia when the animals threatened sheep on his farm.

At just 21 months old, the 85-pound dog’s protective instincts kicked in last month, according to his owner.

“It was chaos,” John Wierwille, 55, told The Washington Post about his dog, Casper. “It was not how we wished things had gone, but we’re glad he made it. He was doing his job, and that’s what I think everybody appreciates about him.”

RELATED COMMENTARY: Owner of dog that fought off pack of coyotes has Ohio roots

Casper suffered injuries to his tail and ears in the incident on Nov. 6.

Wierwille recounted to the Post that he witnessed Casper jump a fence and attack a pack of 11 coyotes, biting their heads and throwing their bodies over his shoulder. The owner is unsure if the animals attacked first or if Casper felt they were threatening his partner, Daisy, who was pregnant with eight puppies. During the incident, Wierwille’s five other Great Pyrenees dogs herded the farm’s sheep away from the chaos.

Wierwille, a pastor-turnedsheep herder, adopted the dogs after changing vocations about 12 years ago.

After encountering the coyotes, Casper disappeared for two days before reemerging from a chicken coop with tears and cuts to his body and a severely injured tail that ultimately had to be amputated.

The breed, known as working dogs who can get as large as 160 pounds, are frequent fixtures on farms due to their ability to protect livestock. The dogs thrive on having “jobs” and can be fierce when provoked; an Atlanta-area Great Pyrenees rescue expert told the newspaper.

The Great Pyrenees is also known for their gentle, family-friendly dispositions, according to the American Kennel Club.

When Wierwille initially brought Casper home, he said the dog immediately doted on the other animals there – even resting his head on the smallest sheep on the farm. But, when his family was threatened, Casper pounced. And, now, he has a stronger will to survive, his owner said.

Casper, a Great Pyrenees sheep dog, killed eight coyotes in November while defending his flock of sheep. (Photo courtesy John Wierwille)

“The vet had some pretty serious conversations with us about whether or not (treatment) was worth it for him,” Wierwille said, adding: “But … (Casper’s) not a normal dog. He’s tough, and he’s got a purpose, and he probably wants to get back to it.”

Wierwille said when he first saw Casper upon his return to the homestead he thought he might have to euthanize the dog. He wondered how he was going to explain that to his young daughters, he said.

“I’m pretty good at knowing how to react fairly quickly to situations,” Wierwille said. “But, I was just frozen for a little bit. I think I was stunned that he was alive.”

According to FOX 5 Atlanta, Casper received more than $15,000 worth of care to treat his injuries. The hefty medical bill was covered by animal lovers donating to a fundraiser for the dog. Casper’s benefactors were so generous the dog ended up with excess funds; this money was donated to the animal hospital that cared for Casper. The funds will help other pet owners cover unexpected emergency vet bills, Wierwille said.

Wierwille grew up a trapper in Auglaize and Putnam counties in Ohio. He remembers walking a trapline in the early morning hours when he was 9 years old.

“It’s not a pretty business, but to me it was a job,” Wierwille told Ohio Outdoor News in December. “It was mostly groundhogs, but you’d get lucky sometimes and get a fox.”

Wierwille said he remembers one time being chased off the trapline by an angry badger.

“I didn’t know what it was,” he said. “I thought it might have been a beaver. But, oh my goodness this thing started gnashing at me and I couldn’t get up that river bank fast enough to get away.”

So, Wierwille is familiar with the outdoor world. He says there’s no hatred toward coyotes despite the incident.

“We work hard to coexist with coyotes and mostly we do but we do have run ins … but I have also seen my dogs hanging out next to a fence with coyotes and you would have thought they were best of friends,” he said.

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