Friday Jun 24 2011
Herding dog, cattle and ranchers attacked
By: Ally Rondoni Journal Correspondent
Hit-and-run driver nearly took the life of beloved dog
Deputies are searching for a man who witnesses watched run down cattle, try to hit horse riders and purposefully crash into a beloved family cattle dog twice before fleeing the scene of an annual event. The cattle dog, Maggie, is now fighting for her life at a Loomis veterinary clinic Sunday, June 19 was the perfect day for the Reader family’s annual cattle drive run by rancher John Reader, who has been driving cattle for 70 years. The event is a chance for family, friends, and locals to gather, drive cattle to the mountains, and celebrate Father’s Day. “It was a beautiful morning,” said Lesa Osterholm of Grass Valley, who was herding on horseback that day. Unlike previous years though, tragedy struck, stopping the event. Each year, 200 cattle are herded by Reader, a pilot car, horseback riders, and Reader’s cattle dog named Maggie, up Alleghany-Ridge Road in a rural town east of Highway 49 above North San Juan in Sierra County. “The cattle are herded up the road for about two miles before we turn them onto a mountain trail,” Osterholm said. “Locals set up chairs roadside, take pictures, and wave to us as we go by each year. It's usually a special event and most people love to watch it.” Forty minutes into the drive, the riders at the front of the herd saw a vehicle coming down the mountain. “I watched him turn the wheels turn toward the cattle and I could hear him accelerate. He went out of his way to hit the cows. I was stunned. He sped right into the cows and their calves,” Osterholm recalled. When the riders called to the driver, telling him to stop, Osterholm said “he gunned the car toward us,” missing riders and horses by inches. The cows and calves that were hit suffered broken bones and possible internal injuries and several were unaccounted for as of Thursday. “The riders have spent the last 36-plus hours looking for the injured animals,” according to Osterholm. Also during this attack, the driver hit the Reader’s cattle dog Maggie, who Osterholm says “does the work of five people.” “It was very gruesome. We all yelled at the driver to stop, to spare the dog, but he kept going and hit her twice,” Osterholm continued. Maggie is in critical condition at the Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic after a five-hour surgery Monday. “Her vet bills total over $7,000 and are expected to climb” Osterholm said. “Her survival is still very touch and go.” The Sierra County Sheriffs Office was not available for comment other than to say that the suspect had not been apprehended, and that law enforcement was working with witnesses to catch the hit-and-run driver. Osterholm said a donation fund has been set up for Maggie. Call the Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic at (916)-652-5816 for more information.