November 15, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 46

Owners puzzled by dog disappearances

A recent spate of missing dogs in Haines has owners wondering what happened to their canine companions.

Nancy Coleman, who lives on Fourth Avenue, lost her chocolate Labrador retriever Boozer and pit bull Rager Nov. 8.

Coleman normally ties up Rager, which makes Boozer stick around since he’s so fond of the pit bull. Rager managed to escape from his tether, pulling off his tags in the process, and both dogs ran away. Coleman said the two usually run around the neighborhood a bit then come back after a couple hours, but she hasn’t seen them since that morning.

Coleman said she’s considered the possibility of the dogs being overtaken by a larger animal, perhaps a coyote or wolf, but doesn’t know how likely that would be considering the size of the dogs and the fact that they were together.

“I’ve ran through every scenario over and over in my head, but I just don’t know if I’m going to find them,” Coleman said.

Aaron Nash lost his five-year-old black Labrador retriever Robot on Sunday, Nov. 4. Nash said Robot usually hangs out near his house on Third Avenue and Union Street. Nash also floated the possibility of coyote or wolf attacks, and said several coyotes have been sighted around town lately.

Connie Ward reported a coyote walking around the Lutak Lumber parking lot one afternoon last week. A coyote was also sighted hunting rodents on a Comstock farm last Friday. Bruce Smith reported a wolf hunting fish on the flats off River Road last week.

Haines Animal Rescue Kennel Executive Director Steve Vick and animal control officer Tracy Mikowski explored the area where the dogs went missing last weekend. Vick said they checked the streets and forest for any signs – like blood, fur, or tracks – of what might have happened to the dogs.

“We didn’t see any evidence of anything like that in the woods or on the streets where we walked,” Vick said.

Vick said it’s curious for adult dogs to get loose and not return.

Stephanie Sell, area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, doubts a coyote or wolf is to blame. “Coyotes are usually going to go for rodents or fowl of some sort. I wouldn’t suspect that a coyote would go after a dog. Wolves would be a more likely scenario, but the wolf population isn’t very large over there.”

Anyone with information on the missing dogs should contact HARK at 766-3334.