A young doe was taken down and badly injured by four dogs Sunday on the Mendenhall Valley wetlands off Sunny Point, animal control officials said Monday.
State Troopers later euthanized the deer and donated the carcass to the Juneau Raptor Center.
According to Gastineau Humane Society animal control officer Brian Weed, Sunny Point resident Frank Rue called to report the incident at about 10 a.m. Rue described the dogs as two golden retrievers, one yellow Labrador retriever and one skinny black lab mix with a curly tail. He said it appeared the dogs were wearing collars.
"I found it very disturbing that people's pets - and that's the main thing, pets - would be running loose," Rue said. "People with pets should take care that they keep them under control, because it's really an unnecessary suffering."
After spotting the dogs from his home about a quarter mile across the wetlands, Rue said he used his binoculars to see if there were any people with the dogs. He said there were none. His wife then spotted what looked like a 2- or 3-year-old doe, which they believe the dogs had chased from Douglas Island.
"My reaction was, the deer looked like it was in trouble," Rue said, "so I figured I would go out and see if I could catch a couple of the dogs, because I had some leashes, and find out who their owners were and get them away from the deer."
Because it was low tide, Rue walked across the wetlands and whistled to the dogs, who took off running toward North Douglas, between the 8000 and 9000 blocks of North Douglas Highway, Rue said. When he approached the doe, Rue said its rear leg was torn.
"It would stand up and would fall down," Rue said. "So it was obviously in very bad shape. It looked to me like the deer was not going to survive."
After Weed and State Troopers Nick Massey and Shaun Kuzakin arrived, they witnessed two golden retrievers, who may have returned to attack the deer again, running toward Douglas Island a second time. Massey and Kuzakin examined the doe and determined that it needed to be euthanized.
"When we examined the deer, all the injuries came from the dogs," Weed said. "The deer didn't seem to have any damage from anything else."
Animal control officers and State Troopers searched the area but could not locate the dogs.
Weed, who has been an animal control officer for two years, said he's never seen anything like the alleged incident before.
"We've seen packs of dogs attack other dogs but never literally take down a deer on the wetlands," he said.
From his experience, Weed said such incidents are most likely to occur when dogs get into packs.
"If the dogs are unaltered, they have more testosterone in them," he said. "Once dogs start running together, they can pretty much do anything. And when dogs are running in groups, they're more likely to be more aggressive and do things an individual dog wouldn't do."
Weed urged dog owners to display their dog's license and keep vaccinations current.
"We also don't want them running around the wetlands, because this kind of thing happens," he said.
For now, animal control officers will continue to patrol the North Douglas area.
"We're hoping members of the public might know who owns all four of these dogs," Weed said. "Maybe it's two neighbors who live side by side. We're hoping somebody is going to be able to identify these dogs based on their descriptions and the area they ran back to."
Residents with information about the incident can call the Gastineau Humane Society at 789-6997 or e-mail AnimalControl@ghspets.org.