WEST VALLEY CITY (News4Utah) – Two vicious dog attacks on Friday and Monday are leaving students at Roots Charter High School devastated.
Staff said their institution is the first farm-based Charter High School in the state of Utah. As part of the agricultural program, the livestock animals are owned by students. They feed and raise the animals through student loans.
“These are students who choose to come here for an agricultural experience. That’s unique in the Salt Lake Valley,” said Bill Carpenter, agriculture instructor at Roots Charter High School. “We wanted to give inner city kids an opportunity to connect with livestock and plants and give them the chance to nurture and grow something.”
He said students are required to spend a minimum of 45 hours taking care of the animals over the course of two to three months. But many of them end up spending more than that.
As a result, students form an attachment to their livestock, which eventually become breeding or fair animals and bring income back to its owner.
“I was actually going through a really rough point in my life. I was extremely suicidal and I came to the school and I bought my sheep. She definitely saved my life,” said agriculture student Sarah Sherwin.
Friday morning, several of Carpenter’s students received phone calls that their livestock had been attacked by two stray dogs. A second attack occurred Monday by the same dogs.
In total, eight animals were attacked. Out of that number, two sheep and two goats died from their injuries.
Several students said they stayed up until 4 a.m. to locate the dogs. One dog was captured, but the other one is yet to be found. Carpenter said the dog captured has an owner that could potentially face charges. The other dog has been feral for the last year.
“We found chicken remains the other night when we were looking. The other dog is still out there and we still don’t know if he’s going to come back. It scares the crap out of me because we still have three lambs up here and I don’t know if they’re going to get attacked,” said Sherwin.
Students affected by the dog attack are now left with student loans that will not be paid back through their original plan of earning money from their livestock.
“These students have had these long-term and they’ve raised offspring out of them this year. It’s devastating because they understand that their profit and their ability to repay the loans is dependent on their ewes being able to produce offspring,” said Carpenter.
However, the incident didn’t just leave a financial wound for the students, but an emotional one as well.
“My goat was basically my emotional support animal. After this incident, sometimes I cry at night and lay there wondering why this happened to me,” said student Chandler Caldwell.
“I’ve lost a good friend and something that I love. I don’t know if I can continue doing this because I can’t go through this kind of pain again,” said student Baylie Johnson.
Staff with Roots Charter High School created a GoFundMe fundraiser, which is near its goal of $4,000.
Carpenter said the proceeds from the fundraiser will help the school replace the livestock, pay for the veterinary bills, and protect their livestock from another attack.