Pack of dogs attack award winning 4-H cows in Catalina, Grand Champion dies in high schooler’s arms

KMSB News 9-10 p.m. recurring
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 8:42 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A slew of dog attacks in Catalina have residents watching their backs, especially worried about their livestock.

One family said they’re traumatized after their three award-winning dairy cows were ambushed.

Erika Sparlin said it all happened so fast. Dogs broke through their back fence in a matter of minutes.

“At 4:45 when I went in to check in on my daughter to make sure she was up, there was almost a growling sound,” she said. “I walk into her room and she’s like what is that? I said I don’t know, let’s go check it out. It was like long and low.”

Little did she know, she was walking into an absolute blood bath. A pack of dogs was attacking her daughter Isabel’s award-winning 4-H dairy cows.

“I turn on the lights and Buttercup is laying by the water, and the black dog is kind of still with her. I start flipping out, I call John and they rush through the fence,” said Sparlin.

When she got closer she saw Buttercup’s muzzle and ear were completely eaten off, Sandy, who is pregnant, was trapped in the feeder and Cupcake was bleeding from her ears and side.

Right when the Vet arrived, Buttercup died in Isabel’s arms.

“She then spent a good amount of time just crying and essentially falling apart,” she said.

For good reason too, Isabel has taken care of Buttercup and all of the dairy cows since they were calves in 4-H.

“I mean it’s everything to her, her 4-H. she was able to win with them and get into the Round Robin and be successful and that’s what she wants to do the rest of her high school experience, then she’s planning to be a vet,” said Sparlin.

John Sparlin, Isabel’s father, said she not only lost a best friend but a huge chunk of cash too.

“The loss of the future offspring from the cows and the loss of the production, the cows are champion showmen cows. They’re typically in the $30,000 to $50,000 price range from what I’ve been told,” said John. “It’s very traumatic when you look at that, the loss of putting that towards college that won’t be there anymore.”

In a statement from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, they said:

“At this time it is not definitive, but we do believe it is the same pack of dogs that are attacking the Catalina-area livestock. Efforts are being made to identify the owners of the k-9s if there is one. We encourage keeping livestock, poultry, pets, and children secured. If you encounter any vicious animal(s) keep your distance, get to a safe place, and call 9-1-1.”

Now all the family wants is justice and peace of mind.

“As early as yesterday three horses were attacked, not as severely as ours but it needs to get taken care of,” said Sparlin.

“It’s not just our cows here, my daughter’s 4-H project, I’m worried there’s going to be kids. There are babies across the wash here, neighbor’s houses, very little kids. I’m terrified these dogs are going to go after one of those next. If they can take down an 800-pound cow, a 30-pound kid is nothing,” John Sparlin added.

So far the Sparlins have spent over $800 in vet bills and $200 in extra medicine. The Livestock Inspector and Vet will be back on Monday.

Pima Animal Care Center said they could not comment at this time since it is an open investigation. If you see dogs attacking an animal or person, make sure to contact law enforcement as well as animal control.

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