By Jayson Jacoby
An animal that might be a gray wolf attacked two dogs Sunday morning just outside a home near Pine Creek, at the base of the Elkhorns about 10 miles west of Baker City.
Brian Ratliff, district wildlife biologist at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's (ODFW) Baker City office, said he searched the nearby forest and found tracks from two separate "large canids."
Ratliff said he also found feces and hair that he will send to the University of Idaho for DNA testing.
The dogs' owner, Jay Ogg, thwarted the attack by firing several rounds from his 10 mm Glock pistol.
Ogg said this morning that he didn't try to hit the attacking animal, which he is convinced was a wolf, but fired in its direction, intending only to scare it off.
The incident happened about 7 a.m. Sunday at Ogg's home on Spring Creek Loop, which branches off Pine Creek Lane.
Ogg moved to the home last August with his wife, Genie.
The couple, who own a home-based business, have 8-year-old twin sons, Jordan and Jacob, and a daughter, Makayla, 10.
Jay Ogg said he had just let out the family's dogs - Taz, a 30-pound Shih Tzu, and Ruger, an 80-pound black Lab/boxer mix - when he heard Taz squeal.
Ogg said he looked outside and saw what he describes as a wolf, about 20 to 30 feet from the home's back porch.
Ogg said the animal had Taz's head in its mouth.
After letting go of the dog, the animal stopped and moved toward Genie Ogg, who also was outside, Jay Ogg said.
"It wasn't scared of us a bit," Jay Ogg said.
He said the animal ran off when he fired a couple more shots in its direction.
Ratliff responded to Ogg's phone call along with Oregon State Police Sgt. Isaac Cyr and Sr. Trooper Brad Duncan.
Ratliff said that although ODFW has not confirmed the presence of wolves in the Elkhorns, there's nothing about the area "that precludes wolves from being there."
"At this point we really just don't know," he said this morning. Ratliff expects DNA results in two weeks or so.
Ogg has set up motion-sensing trail cameras near his home. Ratliff said ODFW will install cameras on nearby public land as well.
Neither Ogg nor his neighbor, Raymond Griner, has heard of any other attacks on pets in the area.
Ogg said he has seen large canine tracks in the snow this winter.
Griner said about three weeks ago he saw an animal that he figured was "just an overgrown coyote," but he wonders now whether it was a wolf.
An estimated 46 wolves live in Oregon, distributed among seven packs, all in Wallowa, Union or Umatilla counties. A pair of wolves killed two dozen sheep in Baker County's Keating Valley in 2009.
Ogg said he will be more cautious from now on.
"Our kids are always playing outside," he said.