Monday, May 20, 2019
Dog Lovers Try to Corral Dogs, Secure Cage
The noble looking Pyrenees, once the royal dog of France, have been used as guard dogs to protect sheep and cattle from coyotes and wolves since Roman times. They are named for the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain.
Thursday, November 15, 2018


They’re like ghosts—majestic looking dog with long coats of white hair that looks like the perfect thing to cuddle with on a chilly winter night.

But no one can get close enough to them to catch them.

A group of dog lovers in the Wood River Valley have been working hard to capture two Great Pyrenees dogs that have been seen walking up and down Highway 75 and through neighborhoods in East Fork Canyon, the Valley Club, Indian Creek, Starweather and Zinc Spur.

The dogs apparently became separated from the flocks of sheep they were guarding and may be searching for those flocks, said Lisa Leach, who is among the rescuers. One appears healthy. The other is emaciated with a wounded back leg.

Veterinarian Randy Acker has offered to treat the dogs if they can be caught.

“I saw one of the Pyrenees Monday night between Alturas and Starweather,” said Patricia Lentz Felton. “He was walking on the white shoulder line at dusk and was very hard to see. One driver had already stopped, as I did. And, with the help of other motorists that stopped, we were able to keep him from getting hit and causing an accident because he kept trying to cross back and forth on the highway.”

Mike Murphy, an avid animal lover and dog rescuer, has spent the past week driving through Zinc Spur, Starweather and East Fork trying to find the dogs. He and Lisa Leach found one in East Fork but were unable to catch it, even with the help of a retired shepherd who stopped to assist.

“We spotted him out near Canyon and Ranch roads and got close but couldn’t nab him before he shot across East Fork Road,” said Leach. We’d love it if anyone who spots the dogs calls us at 208-721-2441.”

People have been trying to figure out ways to lure them to safety but have not been successful so far, added Felton.

“One even brought their own dog on a leash in hope that their dog would give the Pyrenees a comfort level to allow it to be leashed. But attempts have been unsuccessful thus far,” she added.

Would-be rescuers contacted the Blaine County Animal Control which, it turned out, had also been trying to corral the dogs. But the animal control officer is missing his large cage designed for retrieving dogs since it was stolen last month in Croy Canyon while being used by a resident of the area.

Rescuers contacted Idaho Fish & Game to see if they had a trap they could borrow but officers declined to let them borrow it since the situation involved a dog, rather than wildlife. Mountain Humane was unable to help, as well.

Anythings Pawsable, a rescue group from Twin Falls, placed a 48-inch trap near the end of Sheep Trail at  the bridge where the sheep cross in East Fork. Murphy and Leach have been checking it a few times a day. But, chances are the trap is not big enough even if the dogs do check it out.

Pyrenees are so big they can back out of the smaller traps.

"It's like finding a needle in a haystack and the cage has to be checked every threr hours and closed up at night as we don't want them in the cage overnight," said Murphy.

A rancher who might own at least one of the dogs sent two of his sheepherders to East Fork but was unable to find them.

The group learned that Animal Control is unlikely to replace the $600 trap that was stolen until next year. So some of those involved in the search have set up a GoFundMe link to raise that plus the $200 it would take to truck the cage here. The link is

So far they have raised $400.

 “There are many stories of people trying to help—getting in their cars and driving through mid-valley, especially in East Fork. But, without a trap large enough to catch them, I’m afraid it will be futile,” said Felton. “I’ve even put notices on Facebook hoping someone may have a 72-inch one we can borrow or even buy.”

It could actually be dangerous to approach the dogs, Felton added, as they are not domestic dogs and may not be approachable like a domestic dog. Many times Pyrenees puppies are put with sheep and not socialized with humans.

 “We are such a dog loving community that I’m hoping we can help replace the cage that was stolen and keep people from getting injured trying to catch, lost, injured and starving dogs that might get killed on the highway and cause accidents,” she added.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an aberration.  Those who have a soft spot in their hearts for Pyrenees and other great white dogs like Akbash dogs have countless stories about such dogs found wandering the valley following the sheep trailing in fall.

Murphy recounted how a friend saved a lame dog from getting shot by a sheepherder.

"These are big beautiful dogs and should be treated more humanely," he said. "They are raised to do what they do but how about giving them a fighting chance by micro chippiig them, rater than treating them as throw away animals, which breaks my heart."

Felton said he hopes the community might be able to figure out how to prevent this kind of thing happening in the future.

“I know this happens every year when the sheep come down, especially with dogs that are old or injured or have had puppies and can’t keep up,” she said. “There must be a way to work with the ranchers and others to better deal with this.”


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