In Madras, Oregon, this week, a Crook County jury awarded damages to rancher Gordon Clark for the deaths of his three Great Pyrenees livestock protection dogs from the brothers who shot and killed the dogs while hunting elk, reports the Capital Press.
The shootings occurred on Aug. 27, 2012, on a grazing allotment in the Ochoco National Forest that Clark, the owner of Hay Creek Ranch, had been using for sheep grazing for 20 years. That morning sheep were being moved from one camp to another when someone opened fired taking aim at the dogs and killing them. The area had been posted, and the dogs had collars with their identification and a description of their jobs. The worker in charge of the herding job called authorities.
The Crook County Sheriff’s Office investigated the shootings and identified brothers Paul Johnson of Roseburg and Craig Johnson of Bend as the shooters. Craig Johnson is a retired Oregon State Police officer. The men had been bow hunting, but also carried a rifle and a Glock pistol. The brothers initially denied knowing anything about sheep, but then changed their story to the dogs were chasing elk and finally stated they were in fear of their lives; alleging the dogs were acting aggressively.
In 2013, the brothers pleaded no contest to the charges; a Crook County judge sentenced the men to two years probation for first-degree animal abuse, a year-long ban from hunting, $500 in fines, 80 hours community service and forfeiture of firearms. Further detective work and 3 1/2 years later, Clark was awarded $246,500 from the brothers for killing his dogs. Broken down the jury awarded Clark $7,500 for the replacement value of the dogs, $100,000 for emotional harm and $139,500 in punitive damages.
According to KtvzNews, Clark stated the entire ordeal has been very stressful:
“It has been emotionally draining for me and especially for my Peruvian herder. The sad thing is the loss of those particular people-friendly dogs that you could walk up to and pet. In the 20 years we’ve worked our allotment, the dogs and campers have happily mingled and the campers loved it. To see the dogs so senselessly slaughtered, however, goes beyond the value as a working animal.”
Although it is a bittersweet ending, Clark plans to donate the money to the Spay Neuter Investment Project, which provides low-and no-cost spay/neuter and other veterinary services to Crook County residents. You are a great man Mr. Clark.
Follow the National Pet Rescue Examiner on Facebook.