SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Authorities are trying to track a pack of dogs that has killed about 100 animals in nighttime forays in northeastern Washington state — attacks that have claimed goats, a llama and other farm animals and raised alarm that people could be targeted.
Authorities are warning residents to take whatever steps are necessary to protect their families and animals because the dogs appear to be killing for fun rather than food.
"We have this pack that is out there killing for the sake of killing," Stevens County Undersheriff Lavonne Webb said Thursday in a telephone interview. "What is going to happen if they come across a small child?"
The killings started in late March and have occurred in a wide area of mountains and valleys west of Deer Park, a small town about 40 miles north of Spokane.
"Trying to figure out where they are going to hit is next to impossible," Webb said from Colville. "Nobody is claiming ownership of any animals involved in the pack."
Most recently, the dogs killed a 350-pound llama Tuesday night. They've also killed goats and other farm animals.
Officers and volunteers have searched for the pack but had little success because the dogs seem to hunker down during the day and move only at night, she said. "We've only had one or two sightings during daytime hours."
One resident managed to take some photographs of the pack, and it seemed to include four or five large dogs. It's not clear if the dogs are wild or if some or all go home to owners during the day, Webb said. Their breeds also are unknown.
Webb added she has worked for the sheriff's office since the 1970s and never encountered a similar problem. The number of kills alone makes the attacks a "major issue," she said.
Deer Park resident Temma Davis agreed, telling KXLY-TV that neighbors are worried about kids getting off school buses or riding their bikes.
"They're bloodthirsty," she said of the dogs.
Davis compared the experience to the 1980s Stephen King book and movie about a vicious killer dog. "It's like 'Cujo,'" she said.