FFA goats mangled by neighborhood dogs in Merced County

This Pacheco High School FFA goats ear was torn off by a dog. The veterinarian stitched the wound closed.
This Pacheco High School FFA goats ear was torn off by a dog. The veterinarian stitched the wound closed. Courtesy of Pacheco High School

One Pacheco High School FFA goat had to be put down after it was attacked by dogs at the school's farm, while other goats suffered injuries to their ears and tails.

Eight goats were attacked by the two dogs twice this year, said Aimee Strohmenger, an agriculture teacher and goat adviser at the high school. The first attack was in January and a second attack was reported about two weeks ago.

Bryanna Leon, a 17-year-old senior at Pacheco High School, showed up at the school’s barn with her mom at 6:30 a.m. on January 26 to feed the goats.

“When we got there we just heard goats screaming, like crying,” she said in a phone interview. “We looked and one of the dogs was just latched on to goats neck and it would just not let go.”

There was blood all over the pen and goats, Leon said.

“I panicked, I felt nervous,” Leon said. “I was just like really anxious because I wasn’t sure if goats were still alive.”

The dogs dug their way under the fence and into the goat pen, Strohmenger said. The incident was reported to Merced County Animal Control, she said.

Somehow the two Mastiffs were able to get out of their pen and traveled about half a mile down the road to the farm on Ortigalita Road, said Sgt. Mark Taylor, with the Merced County Sheriff's Office. Deputies tracked down the dogs and the owner surrendered them both were euthanized.

One goat had to be put down because its neck was so badly injured it caused neurological damage and couldn't walk or function properly, Strohmenger said. The vet bills will be more than $3,000, she said.

“These students work incredibly hard at these projects all semester to get them to fair, and I feel like their hard work was taken by them from negligent pet owners that are aware of what's going on and still allow it to happen,” Strohmenger said.

“If students hadn't’ shown up at that time they probably would've killed them,” she added.

Students are gearing up to show their goats at the Merced County Spring Fair, Strohmenger said, but this year some students are just hoping their goats will be healed enough to participate.

The goats that were attacked in January have had more time to heal and should be okay by their showing date, Strohmenger said, but the goats recently attacked “definitely still have some spots still healing that could absolutely affect performance.”

“The overall presentation of the goats are compromised,” Strohmenger said. The “kids are constantly explaining what happened to their animals because it often looks bad.”

At the fair students present their goats to judges who grade them on presentation, Strohmenger said. Students have about $500 to $600 invested in each goat, she said, and the goal is to make that money back and profit.

Students had to go “above and beyond” this year to ensure their animals were healing, Strohmenger said.

“A lot of the goats were so stressed out they didn't want to eat or drink,” Leon said. Students have to be with them day and night to clean their wounds, give them their medicine, make sure stitches don’t become infected and that they’re eating.

Leon said she is nervous about how the attacks impacted the goats because she’s not sure “how well they’re going to still cooperate with us without having an ear.”