Updated: Oct 24
Artwork by Antonio Manzanedo
The story begins in the summer of 1972.
Railroad worker Ted Davis was on the Norfolk and Western train line on July 25th. A strange sight caught his attention as he worked: two furry, huge paws lay on the ground in front of him. Confounded, he slowly lifted his eyes and saw a creature at least 6 feet tall, hunched over, and holding a large wooden board. Suddenly, it hit Ted on the shoulder and ran away before Ted could react. Ted's account indicates that the creature carried a weapon, suggesting that the attack was preplanned.
After processing the events of earlier in the week, Ted and Tom Jones returned to work a few days later. Both witnessed the creature on July 30th - they saw it at a safe distance, prowling in the bushes. Startled, the werewolf-like creature ran away. To spread awareness, the men decided to file a police report. Despite the strangeness of the incidents, the police decided to investigate.
After multiple reports came in, Chief Donald Breckler said to the news media, "We don't know what to think. We didn't release it when we got the first report about a week ago. But now we're taking it seriously. We're concerned about the safety of our people."
"If I see him (the werewolf) the police are going to find out who he is. That’s because they’ll have to take him to the hospital to get the buckshot out."
It was not long before the town began to panic, with several newspapers, such as The Toledo Blade and the Defiance Crescent-News, covering the strange sightings. There was a general consensus that werewolves were at least 6ft tall and humanoid in some way, sometimes even wearing jeans. The creature was also described as bipedal but severely hunched over. It’s worth mentioning that none of the sightings occurred during a full moon.
Over the next few weeks, more werewolf sightings were reported, and locals were cautious of every corner, until the reports faded away as quickly as they had come about. It seemed werewolf summer had abruptly ended.
Defiance wasn't the first town in Ohio visited by these dog-like-men, and it wasn't the last. A creature "covered in hair with wolf-like ears and fangs" was spotted by Harold Annon on River Road, north of Tiffin, Ohio. It was "ape-like", about 7 ft tall but hunched over. It makes you wonder how often dogmen and ape-men are misidentified as one another. The creature could be connected to the Germantown Dogman of Ohio, The Butter Street Monster, or the Michigan Dogman.
John Tenney, an author as well as consultant for various TV shows including “Unsolved Mysteries,” said of the possibility of the Michigan Dogman's existence, "“As a person from Michigan, I know my dad and his friends go hunting for deer in deer season and many times don’t see a single one,” he said. “There are 6.5 million deer in Michigan. Now imagine a smart migratory being trying to stay far from us where they may only be a million or 100,000 of them across the globe. You won’t see them.”
Tenney said a lot of bigfoot reports in Michigan are more likely dogmen, or large, upright canines. In the 1970s, hunters reported seeing a large hairy man wearing what seemed to be a feed bag on his face. Reports at the time called the creature a large, 7-foot tall unkempt hippy. Areas where the creature were found had odd wolf prints with a large toe in front.
These kind of sightings continue in Michigan. A recent sighting in came from a hunter. “At first he thought it was a wolf someone had hung by its neck from a tree because it was so tall,” Tenney said. “He went to cut it down.” The creature looked down, then backed up and sprinted into the woods.
Author David Weatherly, who has spoken on TV and radio shows, suggested that dogmen in some parts of the country may be skinwalkers or yenaldlooshi, as they are known by the Navajo people.
Author and researcher Linda Godfrey points out, “There is a concentration of dogman and wolfman sightings around the Great Lakes,” she said, mentioning the Defiance case in 1972, Michigan dogman in 1987 and the Bray Road beast of Wisconsin in 1991-92.
“I’m still getting reports,” she said of the Bray Road creature. “It was not just one creature on Bray Road that went away. It’s worldwide and nationwide... The creatures are widespread and diversified.”
Dogman Encounters is a website where you can report and read others' dogman sightings in the USA, with several contributions from Ohio and many other states in the USA.