DNR Private Lands Wildlife Biologist Rick Peercy, who consulted with Dale about the incident, said a pack of dogs or a pack of hybrids both are capable of such an attack.
“It’s not out of the question that a large breed of domestic dogs [provoked the horses],” Peercy said. “We’ve had reports from other counties where dogs have gotten into pens and barns and chased pigs around until they were dead with claw marks left behind.
“If it was a bunch of dogs, it’s going to take more than one to stir up a bunch of horses,” he added. “If it was a dog/wolf hybrid that had gotten out, they’re a prime suspect.”
Wolf hybrids are legal to own domestically, according to Indiana law. Owners must keep a wolf hybrid in a building or secure enclosure at least 6 feet high and on a leash not more than 8 feet in length.
Owners who do not comply with the requirement could face Class B misdemeanor charges if they knowingly or recklessly allow the animal to enter another person’s property or cause damage to livestock or personal property.
Dale noted there was an incident three weeks prior to the attack on the horses involving hybrid dogs near 550 North, 1050 West, but those animals were accounted for by the owner prior to the latest incident.
During the previous incident in February, two of the hybrid dogs were shot and killed by area hunters who believed the animals were coyotes. Three of the other dogs also were able to jump out of their cage after a large snow drift built up next to the fence. The animals did not attack any livestock and were located a little more than a day after escaping, Dale said.
Because the high snow bank was caused by inclement weather, Dale said the owner of the hybrid dogs was not in violation of the law.