The two dogs that killed 14 birds and a rabbit — and possibly two kittens — were found lounging in the Neepawa Bird Sanctuary after their early Wednesday morning attack. When volunteers noticed the devastation, the dogs were corralled into a pen before RCMP contacted the owner and transported the dogs to the Neepawa Vet Clinic, where they remain in a mandatory 10-day quarantine. (Facebook)

NEEPAWA — Volunteers and board members of the Neepawa Bird Sanctuary are devastated and heartbroken after two large free-roaming dogs tunnelled under the sanctuary’s fencing and went on a killing spree on Wednesday morning, fatally attacking 14 birds and one rabbit.

Every bird that was not in its own enclosure within the larger fenced area of the sanctuary except for a rooster and a Muscovy duck named Cola, which were both able to fly to higher ground on the roofs of buildings, were killed.

The animals the sanctuary lost to the attack include a family of Silkies — a breed of chicken known for its silken plumage — and their babies, six young adult chickens, a bantam hen with a baby chick, another hen who just hatched out a peahen and a fluffy lop rabbit. Sanctuary volunteers are still looking for two young cats that may have been killed or harmed in the attack.

“We are attached to these animals and put in time and love into caring for them. The volunteers are truly heartbroken,” said Chantel Boersma, the co-chair of the sanctuary.

Boersma told the Sun that the dogs were discovered relaxing in the grass after killing the animals on Wednesday morning. Upon contacting the owner of the dogs, the sanctuary was told that the man knew the dogs had been missing in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

After notifying the owner of the dogs, Boersma said that Spruce Plains RCMP was contacted.

“The owner agreed to take the dogs down to the veterinary clinic and the RCMP followed,” Boersma said.

The dogs are being held at the veterinary clinic, where they are undergoing a 10-day quarantine to ensure they are not rabid. A spokesperson for the Neepawa Vet Clinic told the Sun that the fate of the dogs, once their quarantine is up, is unknown.

The birds that were unharmed in the attack include a white peacock, a coloured peacock, peahens and other fowl that were secluded in pens.

“Thankfully this year, we actually had kept them kind of segregated in the pens,” Boersma said. “Thankfully, they were OK.”

However, some damage was done to smaller pens, she said — the result of the dogs trying to break through the pens and kill more birds. But even the animals that were not killed in the attack are dealing with the impacts of extremely high stress, Boersma said.

The entire situation has been very frustrating for the bird sanctuary volunteers, she added. Although the sanctuary is fully fenced, since Park Lake disappeared after its dam was broken in July 2020, predators can approach the fencing from an area that was once inaccessible.

“Park Lake was actually a huge barrier for predators. Essentially, things couldn’t cross that,” Boersma said.

After posting about the incident on the Neepawa Bird Sanctuary’s Facebook page, an outpouring of support filled the post’s comment section. Boersma said that the care and concern the community has shown the volunteers and the animals at the sanctuary has been truly heartwarming.

“Mostly it’s been super, super supportive. Everybody understands that it’s volunteer-run, and we’re just really trying to do the best we can to give the animals a really good quality of life,” she said.

A merchandise fundraiser where people can support the sanctuary by buying clothing and other goods with the sanctuary’s logo is happening from now until July 21, the deadline for orders for the fundraiser. More details can be found on the Neepawa Bird Sanctuary’s Facebook page.

A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help the sanctuary raise money to fix the damage done to the property, replace the animals that were killed and make the enclosure even more secure. Sanctuary volunteers plan to install new heavy-duty fencing along the entire area that holds two emus and completely redo four individual pens.

At press time, $345 had been raised on the GoFundMe page, with a goal of $5,000.

The Sun contacted the Spruce Plains RCMP but did not receive a reply by press time.

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 07, 2023 at 08:44

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
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