WHITE RIVER, S.D. (KELO) — In March of 2015, Mike Blom, only three months into his first term as Mellette County Sheriff, responded to a call that nine years later is still on his mind.

In 2015, 49-year-old Julie Charging Whirlwind died in the hospital after being attacked by a pack of dogs.

“Almost nine years ago now — we had a dog attack that also occurred in tribal housing,” Blom recounted. “A lady was killed, viciously, by a large number of dogs. I responded to the scene and shot a couple of the dogs that were still attacking her — it was something we don’t ever want to happen again.”

Blom worries that as time has passed, people have forgotten the danger that stray dogs can pose.

Another dog recently attacked a person in the area, as indicated by a post from the Mellette/Todd County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

The post, written in all caps, says a person in the Swift Bear Tribal Housing community was severely bitten by a dog, and that they were taken to the Indian Health Services hospital for treatment.

In response to this incident, and with the 2015 attack still fresh in the memory of many, the Sheriff’s Office announced in the post that any dogs found running at large in state-jurisdiction will be destroyed.

Blom acknowledged the language in the post may seem extreme to many. He says the purpose of the post was to “get people’s attention and make them take it seriously.”

The community where this attack happened is outside the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Office, but is separated from the town of White River by just a strip of highway.

“The same dogs can cross and come over into town,” said Blom.

After the attack in 2015, Blom says that the Tribal Police, who he says his office has an excellent relationship with, worked to round up the stray dogs in the community.

“There hasn’t been a lot of problems until the last year or so,” he noted.

Another thing Blom points out is that the dogs he and others in the community are concerned about are not those owned by responsible and caring owners. “It’s a dog that as soon as something happens, nobody wants to claim ownership.”

While the wording of the Sheriff’s Office post may have been meant to make an impact, Blom says they are looking to be extreme in their actions. “We don’t have any intention of going in people’s yards and taking their poodle and that kinda thing,” he said.

One challenge for Blom and his team is the difficulty in catching stray or wild dogs. He says they occasionally turn strays they capture over to rescues or shelters, “but these dogs for the most part aren’t easy to catch,” he said. “They don’t come to us and we’re not dog catchers.”

Blom delved into the difficulty in determining how and when to act when encountering loose dogs.

“We have them on the playground occasionally. They’re walking by the school and they’re not aggressive — they’re just following their kid to school. You don’t want to drag a dog off the playground that’s not doing anything, even though they’re not supposed to be there,” he said.

This, Blom indicates, is why it’s important for people to make sure they’re keeping their dogs home. “We just can’t go around shooting dogs,” he said. “If the kids see that, they’re gonna remember that for a long time.”

But sometimes such action may be the only option. “I remember having to shoot the dogs that were killing [Charging Whirlwind] eight years ago,” Blom said. “We’re not gonna allow that to happen again.”

You can find the Facebook post with the Sheriff’s Office message here.