A brave Georgia farm dog viciously attacked by a pack of coyotes while defending his owner’s livestock has been named American Farm Bureau’s Farm Dog of the Year: “People’s Choice Pup”.
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Casper, a Great Pyrenees owned by John Wierwille of Decatur, suffered major injuries after fighting off nearly a dozen of the wild dogs protecting his owner’s flock of sheep, American Farm Bureau reported.
Casper, who lives on a farm with his owner about 20 miles northeast of Atlanta, won a trophy, Purina products and a $1,000 cash prize Wierwille donated to the LifeLine Animal Project − the shelter that treated the dog after his attack, according to the organization that recognized him at its convention in Salt Lake City Friday.
“Thank you also to everyone who voted for our brave, determined and goofy livestock protector,” Wierwille posted on Facebook. “We are proud of Casper and glad he has a long life of doing what he loves ahead of him.”
“Although farmers and ranchers love what they do, it’s well known that farming can be stressful,” AFB President Zippy Duvall said in a release. “Farm dogs can help ease the burden, because they often play a dual role as both working dogs and companions to farm families.”
11 coyotes verse one brave farm dog
Casper’s wild encounter took place the night of Nov. 3, 2022, when nearly a dozen coyotes approached Wierwille’s farm, WBIR-TV reported.
The owner told the outlet he woke up to barking, went outside and saw Casper, just 20 months old at the time, and his other dog, Daisy, backing his sheep up in a corner to protect them.
“Casper then charged into the middle of the pack in a scrum between the animals that lasted roughly 30 minutes,” the outlet reported, killing eight coyotes.
The dog, who underwent multiple surgeries after the attack, suffered wounds to his neck and back, and had to have his tail amputated, his owner told WBIR.
“Casper has come so far in the last year,” Wierwille wrote in a previous post on Facebook. “Except for his missing tail, you would not know that he suffered any trauma at all.”
Four more top contending pooches
More than 100,000 people voted online in the “People’s Choice Pup” competition, AFB reported.
Four other dogs contended for the prize including runner-up Cinco, owned by Caleb and Samantha Smith of Utah; Trip, owned by Loralynn Kadell of Ohio; Margo, owned by Rachel Hyde of Indiana; and Morgan, owned by Megan Stark of Idaho.
In addition to Casper’s award, the organization also announced its 2024 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year: Skippy, a 4-year-old mixed breed with Border Collie, Australian Shepherd and Catahoula hound in her blood, owned by Georgia Farm Bureau members Donald and Laura Adams.
The couple has owned Skippy for about two years, according to the release, and works with their beef cattle.
“Skippy’s a partner, she’s a pet and she helps us with the cattle every day,” said Donald Adams, who the organization said is paralyzed from the neck down after being injured on his farm in 2019. “Being able to keep the cows and having something for me to live for every day… she has contributed to that immensely.”
Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X @nataliealund.