On June 13, under a full moon, two black dogs breached fences and killed three farm animals at farms on Millhurst Road (Route 527) in Manalapan.
The dogs, described as Rottweilers by one farmer who saw them and scared them off, have not been caught, and the owner of the dogs has not been conclusively identified by police.
"What happened that night on Friday the 13th was a very unusual situation, to my recollection," said Manalapan Health Officer David Richardson, who oversees animal control. "We haven’t had anything like that in 20-odd years. Hopefully that is it."
It was sometime after 10 p.m. when James Thomson heard a commotion in a barn at his goat farm located on Millhurst Road, near Woodward Road and Tennent Road/Main Street. Thomson jumped off his tractor, leaving the gate open behind him. "There were two Rottweilers inside a barn barking at two goats inside. And I shined a light on the dogs and yelled at them off," he said. He believes they jumped a four foot high field fence to enter the farm.
Outside a goat Thomson was raising as a breeder lay dead, valued at least $150. Another goat was down in the intersection, with an injury. Police arrived. At the time he was not scared. But it could have been dangerous, he said. "Thinking back now, I guess they could have turned on me instead of running away."
The next morning, Iztok "Izzy" Ferluga, the owner of Suburban Acres Farm at Millhurst Road at Viviani Drive, woke up to discover his prize buck Alpine named Buddy and a Dorsett sheep named Button were laying dead outside the barn. Both were like his pets, he said, following him around the farm. Both were found with fatal bite marks. He figures the dogs chewed through a fence and dug under it to enter the secured area.
Ferluga, who started Suburban Acres with wife Adrienne Vento five years ago, fears the dogs will return, and now stands guard over the baby goat pens at night because he can't afford to lose them. He's in the business of breeding goats to eat poison ivy in places like Poricy Park in Middletown, and raising sheep for their wool. The couple estimates the combined combined worth of their breeders is $1,500. "I even feel lucky that I wasn’t around because these dogs were coming in for a kill," he said. He says that because the animals were killed with a lion's squeeze to the neck, but not consumed.
"If the dogs come to my farm at night and I’m there, they might not leave," Ferluga declared. "I have a right to protect my livelihood, by law. That's all I can say."
Police say the case is under investigation. Meanwhile, Manalapan has a certain dog owner "under a heightened surveillance program" which includes driving by the property and engaging the owner in conversation to make sure the dogs are properly controlled.
In Manalapan, there are no laws against owning certain breeds, nor limits on number of dogs. Just that they have to be licensed at six months, said Richardson.
He added, "I don’t think people are generally at risk of community dogs. We just have to work on a few owners on their responsibilities."
Ptl. Sean McCarthy handled the incident with the assistance of Ptl. Brian Belardo, Ptl. Edward Hedden, and Sgt. Edward Niesz, along with Western Monmouth Animal Control.