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Courtesy of John Reader

Maggie, a border collie in the foreground, keeps cattle moving. She was hit by a driver vexed at having to wait for a herd to pass.

Sierra County cattleman's dog fights for life

Published: Friday, Jun. 24, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2012 - 9:57 pm

A terrific cattle dog is recovering from injuries she suffered when an impatient driver ran her over during a livestock drive.

Maggie, an 8-year-old border collie, is recovering from a broken leg and severe internal injuries after the incident in Sierra County that shocked her owner, cattleman John Reader. A fund has been set up to help pay for her injuries.

"She's no spring chicken but still really is in her prime for my cattle operation," said Reader. "She's been my best dog."

For decades, the Readers have moved their cattle from Pike, about eight miles northeast of North San Juan, to the high country where they graze for the summer. Part of the drive is three or four miles along the Alleghany-Ridge Road before dropping off onto a dirt road.

Local residents and others typically set up folding chairs roadside and snap pictures of the drive, waving as the herd goes by each year. The Old West lives as the cattle move toward summer pastures.

Pilot cars in front and back were leading about 300 cows along the road on Sunday. Riders on horseback were at the front and rear of the herd.

As the cattle moved along, a couple of cars stopped to let the herd pass. However, another vehicle, a white Jeep Cherokee, pushed through instead of waiting. The car was near dregs of the herd when, Reader said, the driver made a sudden turn.

"I watched him deliberately take the steering wheel and whip it hard to the right," said Reader. "He gunned the car and ran into a calf and a couple of cows. I thought 'What kind of a crazy guy is this?' " The riders tried to stop the car, and Reader hollered for the driver to stop. But the car picked up speed, narrowly missing Reader's mount.

"My dog was on the shoulder of the road, not even on the pavement," said Reader. "He then turned his attention to her, turned the car that way and ran right over her with both front and back tires."

The male driver and his male passenger then sped on off. Reader said law enforcement is working to locate the driver.

Maggie, who is said to do the job of five riders, was taken to the Loomis Basin Veterinary Emergency Hospital where surgery was performed. The dog suffered a broken back leg, and her spleen, liver and stomach were pushed into her chest cavity.

The femur had to be fixed and her internal organs re-aligned.

"She's not out of the woods," said Reader. "It is amazing she's alive, really."

Veterinary bills now total $7,000. To help with costs, people can call the veterinary hospital at (916) 652-5816.

So far, $2,000 has been donated.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Bill Lindelof



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