A sudden spike in dog attacks in the Catalina area has left residents fearing the safety of their livestock.
One family woke up to their worst nightmare.
"At roughly around 4:30 in the morning, my wife went up to make sure our daughter was up, and they heard the cows yelling from inside the house. Which is very unusual, so they knew something was wrong," said John Sparlin, livestock owner.
John's wife, Erika Sparlin, wasn't prepared for what she was about to see.
"The two calves were yelling. She (Erika) saw the two yellow-ish dogs in the first pen with Cupcake. She didn't see our third cow, Sandy. And as she turned the light on in the barn, Buttercup was still on the ground with the third dog actively attacking her," John explained.
It was then, when Erika turned the barn lights on, that the dogs released their grip from the cows, fleeing through the same hole they had dug to get in.
"To come out to animals that you care for and love for, to be injured in such a horrific way is just heartbreaking," John said.
The Sparlin family had three cows in the pen the dogs had broken into.
One cow was found in a feeder, attempting to escape the dogs.
However, the feeder left her right side completely vulnerable to the dogs.
"We had to literally cut the metal feeder apart to get the third cow out. But they attacked her in there so her right side is banged up pretty bad," he explained.
The Sparlins immediately called the Adobe Veterinary Center.
"They were able to get here in time to save at least two of the cows. the third one, she died from her injuries from the dog attack," said John.
"I responded to this call the day of when the cattle had first been attacked and the injuries were very significant," said Dr. Meghan Marner, a large animal veterinarian at Adobe Veterinary Center.
For their daughter, Isabelle Sparlin, these animals were her pride and joy — award-winning 4-H dairy cows.
"She goes into work mode. 'What do we need to do, what do I need to do, how can I help?'." John recalled.
"For almost three hours she laid there with Buttercup."
Buttercup soon died in Isabelle's arms.
John describes the incident as "blood being everywhere."
On January 30th, the Adobe Veterinarians returned for a checkup of the two surviving cows.
"At this time, both of the cows have significantly clinically improved. One of the cows is in late-term pregnancy and at this time it still seems like a viable pregnancy. So, we are hopeful she will deliver a nice healthy calve here in the next couple of months here," said Dr. Marner.
There have been at least two other reports of dogs attacking livestock in this area within the last month. The Pima County Sheriff's Department and Pima Animal Care Center are still investigating these cases.
Breanna Isbell is a reporter for KGUN 9 . She joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in sports journalism from Arizona State University in May. Share your story ideas with Breanna by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook , or Twitter .
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