Fond du Lac County Board broods over ruffled feathers, chicken deaths
ELDORADO - The recent, untimely death of 27 fancy chickens had Fond du Lac County Board supervisors clucking over just what to do about it.
The town of Eldorado’s claim of $870 for the brutal death of chickens and one severely injured duck came before members of the County Board last week, who were told the culprit was a marauding dog.
Chairperson Marty Farrell said the dog has a reputation in the area, and it was rumored to have taken out a goat in the past.
Although three witnesses were named in the report, only one was said to have actually seen the dog carrying a dead chicken in its mouth. Some supervisors felt that wasn’t enough evidence to pin all 27 deaths on the canine in question, not to mention the injured duck.
“It says the husband saw the dog carrying the chicken, but where is the evidence?” said Supervisor Tom Kitchen. Proof would be needed, he said, if the county intends to recoup the money from the dog owner.
County Clerk Lisa Freiberg said sheriff’s deputies were called and the town did try to settle the problem through their own investigation, to no avail.
“The dog is not licensed and is a nuisance in the area,” she said.
The burden of proof will certainly be on the Board, said Supervisor Sam Kaufman.
“If you see a dog coming from a place and it’s got a chicken in its mouth, and there are 26 other dead chickens, I would say that is proof,” said Supervisor Tom Dornbrook.
Supervisor Ken Depperman pointed out that these weren’t just any old chickens, but expensive show chickens. Farrell said the breeds of the deceased poultry in question were so exotic, he would not even try to pronounce the names.
If they were so exotic, why weren’t they kept in a special enclosure, asked Supervisor John Zorn.
“You can go to Festival (Foods) and get chicken already cooked for $6, which would add up to $162,” he said.
Town of Eldorado Chairperson Gary Miller said he tried to settle the dispute but the dog owner wanted to replace the dead chickens with any old chickens.
"It's the fact they were prized chickens, that's the issue here," Miller said.
The chickens' owner, Nicole Langenfeld, says she's spent the past four years developing her own line of Rhode Island reds, orpingtons and Brahmas. The birds are kept in a coop on the property and shown off at county fairs.
She said the dog got them all in one, bloody attack.
"The dog owner wanted to replace them with hatchery chickens, but a good show chicken goes for $40 to $100," Langenfeld said.
Meggin MacNamara, corporation counsel for Fond du Lac County, said if the Board so chooses, they could form a committee to review the matter.
A motion to have corporation counsel spend more time looking into the claim was overwhelmingly defeated and the County Board approved payment of the claim.
“What is a postponement going to do, the chickens are gone,” said Supervisor Marty Ryan. "I prefer to focus on the animal who is accused of this.”
Any reimbursement for the dead chickens will go back into the county's dog license fund.