Between dusk on January 21st and dawn on January 22nd, ten animals at The Urban Farm at Stapleton were violently killed, including goats, sheep, and two rabbits. Dakota, a well-loved goat and former grand champion of the National Western Stock Show, was pregnant with triplets. One sheep, Cloud, was being treated by veterinarians as we go to press and was expected to recover.
Fifteen children participate in the 4-H goat program, which will have to be entirely restarted in the Spring. Amy Marrs of The Urban Farm said this was their entire breeding stock of high-quality meat goats. Participants in 4-H at The Urban Farm are taught the principles of raising animals and understand that some of the animals fostered in the farm-to-table program end up as food, but this attack is different. “We try to build resiliency here. This is not how I would have chosen to build resiliency, but that’s what we’re going to do,” said Marrs.
All of the animals had been secured in pens, and early news reports suggested that human violence might be to blame. Authorities, however, found two stray dogs wandering the Smith Rd. property, and an examination by a state veterinarian demonstrated that the dogs were responsible for the fatal attack. “There’s an instinctual, animal part to a dog that can kick in, and that’s what happened,” said Marrs. “There were two of them and two makes a pack.” The dogs, who appeared to be mixes of Labrador retriever and blue heeler, were taken by animal control while authorities attempted to locate the owners, said Marrs.
Lt. Ian Culverhouse confirmed that the preliminary necroscopy by the state veterinarian was consistent with dog bites, and there were no inconsistencies. In other words, there is no evidence of any human involvement. He said that the last known owners, who adopted the dog in September, 2016, lived in Commerce City, and animal control has been attempting to contact them. Should charges be warranted, that would be up to the District Attorney’s office, Culverhouse said.
At the time the beloved animals at the farm were killed, nine of The Urban Farm’s sheep were safe on the Stock Show grounds, where one had received a grand championship award. These animals, two of whom are pregnant, will be used to repopulate the sheep herd, but donations and support from the community are welcome. Staff are working to reinforce pens, but “the most beautiful thing would be if we could somehow rally to get a barn, that would be the safest thing for them,” said Marrs. Please visit www.theurbanfarm.org for updates on the situation and to donate to repopulate their stock.