How to keep dogs out of the chicken coop

Regarding the Feb. 19 Metro article “Chicken-chasers catch a break”:

A dog should be kept on its owner’s property, but sometimes dogs get loose or are let free to roam. It is my job to keep my chickens safe. If a dog doesn’t try to get at them, a fox or coyote will. I have electric netting, which is not cheap or attractive, but it works and is movable. You can also put an electric strand around the bottom and top of the chickens’ enclosure, which is much cheaper. Just killing what comes to harm your chickens is like leaving your front door open and shooting intruders. It’s not very effective, and it’s bound to cause hard feelings.

Diane Krumme, Marshall, Va.

My wife and I have dogs and chickens, and we love them all. We take care, however, to ensure that our dogs do not harm the chickens and do not leave our property. Dogs will be dogs, and chickens present an irresistible temptation to most of them, particularly when excited. I don’t blame dogs that kill chickens; I blame the owners for letting them roam.

While I certainly would not wish to harm a dog, I would not hesitate to protect my chickens if they were being attacked. The law in Virginia is fair and is there for good reason.

Michael Morency, The Plains, Va.

In the 1930s, dogs were perceived as having “no emotional pet value”? Is David Favre, “expert in animal law at Michigan State University,” familiar with the case of Burden v. Hornsby, otherwise known as the case of “Old Drum”? Decided after three trials from 1869 to 1870, attorney George Graham Vest’s closing argument included the now famous appeal that “the one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.”

Old Drum had been killed by a sheep farmer. Charles Burden, the dog’s owner, sued for $50, the maximum allowed by state law, and won. The verdict was upheld on appeal by the Missouri Supreme Court. Dogs have had emotional pet value since time immemorial. It’s about time the Virginia legislature, and other states, recognized it.

Matt Krafft, Bethesda

I have two dogs and an acre of fenced yard that allows them plenty of running room. When the dogs are taken out of the yard they are on leashes and never allowed to run free. My neighbors had chickens, and the only time the dogs went after the chickens was when the chickens got into my yard.

The owner of the two dogs who were shot after getting into a neighbor’s chicken coop said, “The simple solution for a rational person is to pick up the phone.” I disagree. The simple solution for a rational person is a fenced yard and keeping dogs leashed when out of the yard. If the dogs are allowed to run loose, is it the car’s fault if the dog gets hit? Good fences make good neighbors.

Dudley Jay Losselyong, Great Falls

Not long after Pearl Harbor, my dad was assigned to the Pentagon, so my family and my young Irish setter, Pete, moved from rural Wisconsin to the heart of Falls Church. That summer, a police officer came to our door, saying that Pete had killed a neighbor’s sheep and that Pete would have to be killed in turn. In an attempt to overturn the impromptu verdict, my dad hired a local lawyer and went to court for a hearing. They took Pete with them, along with a veterinarian who stated that he had examined Pete and there was no wool trapped in the dog’s teeth as there would have been had he bitten a sheep. Pete was released. Within days another red-colored dog was determined to be the sheep murderer. Three years later, Pete, after we’d moved west, won state best of breed in Denver.

Judy Constantine, Fairfax

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