From Bizarre To Deadly: UFO Encounters And Animal Reactions

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
February 4, 2024
Estimated Reading Time
15 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

Many recurring details have been noted in UFO encounters – such things as power failures during sightings, for example. One of the most interesting of these is animal reactions – sightings that have resulted in sudden agitation or nervousness from household pets or cattle. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, sightings that have resulted in injury or even death to animals.

Some of the earliest UFO cases to have bizarre reactions from animals noted by investigators we have examined previously. The infamous Flatwoods Monster case, for example, which unfolded in Flatwoods, West Virginia on the evening of September 12th, 1952 is just such a case, that saw a family dark react to something with furious barks, before backing away, clearly spooked and anxious.

Similarly, we have explored the Willow Grove encounter from Moe, Australia on the morning of February 15th, 1963 in our book From Deep Within The Archives Of UFO Insight (which you can purchase here), which saw horses and cattle reacting in a most agitated way, as well two of the farm dogs fleeing the hovering otherworldly craft.

The fact is, though, there are many others that are not so well-known. And undoubtedly, countless more have not been reported or have all but slipped through the gaps of time and are awaiting rediscovery and examination. As usual, we do not have space or time to examine each and every case on record. We will, though, explore some of the most intriguing, thought-provoking, and sometimes, harrowing encounters to have unfolded since the start of the Modern UFO era. And we will start, with a tragic encounter from the mid-1960s.

The Deadly 1966 Varina Farm UFO Encounter

According to an article in an October 1999 edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, over 30 years earlier, on the evening of August 9th, 1966, Henrico County Sheriff A. D. “Toby” Mathews witnessed a UFO. And not only that, it was Mathews’ firm belief that “the mysterious craft was responsible for snatching and snuffing the life out of his dog”. [1] Mathews claimed that on the moonlit night, when he was a road sergeant with Henrico Police, he witnessed a “large unidentified flying object” that was “hovering silently” near his farm in Glendale, Varina.

He stated to the newspaper that on the night in question, he had only recently returned home from a psychology class at the Richmond Progressional Institute (now called the Virginia Commonwealth University). At around 10:30 pm, Mathews suddenly heard his German shepherd dog who was chained up outside begin to bark loudly. He immediately made his way outside to see what had got the dog’s attention. As soon as he unchained the canine, it ran toward the edge of a cornfield opposite. It was then that he saw a strange white object hovering just above the field.

He would recall that the object was around 200 feet above the ground, just above the powerlines. He further described the craft as being around 30 feet wide and was seemingly completely silent, elaborating further that it was “just like the ones you see on TV”. After taking a moment to gather his thoughts, he ran back inside the house to retrieve his flashlight. When he returned outside, he immediately shined it toward the object. As soon as the beam hit it, the craft turned before sending out a flash of bright light. It then “took off like a bullet – just tremendously fast”.

Satisfied that the craft had disappeared for good, he returned his dog to his pen and then returned inside.

A Grim Discovery

The following morning, at around 5 am, Mathews went outside and let the dog out to stretch its legs, as he did every morning. On this particular morning, however, the dog failed to return. He immediately went out to search for it but failed to do so. When he returned home, though, he was greeted with an ominous sight. There, just beyond the circular driveway, he could see the German shepherd lying motionless in the middle of the road. A quick inspection told him the dog was dead.

He stated in the article that there wasn’t “a mark on him – no blood, no singe marks, no nothing”. Even stranger, “whatever killed him, they had taken his chain collar off”, something which Mathews found particularly perplexing. Not only had he not seen any cars on the road that morning, there was hardly any traffic on the road at any time of day.

Ultimately, he believed that something connected to the UFO he had seen the night before was responsible for the death of the German shepherd, adding that leaving his body on the road “let me know they were there”. Incidentally, no explanation was ever found for the dog’s death.

Mathews would add that he was still in the military reserve at the time of the sighting and that the object “didn’t appear to be any type of military craft at all”.

Although he didn’t make an official report of the incident, he did speak with a fellow police officer who had seen a very similar saucer-like object the previous months at the State Fairgrounds. The officer in question urged Mathews to report the encounter, however, he declined to do so.

Of even further interest, during the same spring and summer of 1996 in this part of Virginia, more than a dozen reports of saucer-shaped objects were made, including three from police officers.

It is perhaps also worth mentioning the comments of (then) Deputy Coordinator of Law Enforcement Accreditation for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Patrick Haley, who claimed that Mathews told him and his wife, Brenda, of the incident during a Christmas dinner party in December 1996.

He claimed that Mathews had told them that the object in question had actually landed in the field. What’s more, some kind of “pull” had dragged him toward it, while he claimed, to the Haleys, that he had found burn marks on his dog after discovering its dead body. Mathews himself denies this.

It is also worth noting that Haley had resigned abruptly a short time after beginning as the Chief Deputy – and claimed his reasons for doing so was incompetent management of Mathews. Was his version of events connected to his personal feelings toward Mathews? Or might Mathews have told different versions of that evening?

Truly Disturbing Encounter In Claremont, New Hampshire

During the early hours of July 20th, 1968, in Claremont, New Hampshire, several local residents witnessed a strange object moving over the town. [2] At around 1 am on the night in question, a manufacturing plant worker was returning home to his garden carrying two buckets of water. As he did so he witnessed “a bright round object float in a gentle arc low in the sky to the northeast”. He would elaborate that the object appeared similar to a full moon but was particularly low in the sky. The object eventually disappeared behind some nearby trees. The witness estimated it was visible for around two minutes.

Around an hour later, at around 2 am, a husband and wife were about to retire to bed when they noticed an object that they recalled as “dome-shaped” moving across the sky. The object was so low – around only 10 feet above the ground – that they could easily estimate its size to be around 20 feet across. They would later state that the object “was moving slowly, causing shadows on some freshly cut hay” below. Then, out of nowhere, the object shone a bright beam of light toward the ground, immediately causing their pet dogs to become agitated and anxious, which, in turn, caused their children to become “very restless”.

Sketch of what the witnesses saw

In fact, the couple’s children seemingly went through a very bizarre experience. Their mother would recall that they were “crying out in their sleep…as if something was hurting them”, adding that they were both usually very sound sleepers who almost always slept through the night. At the same time, the two dogs – a German shepherd and a poodle – were both “whimpering and whining”, and acting, like the two children, as if something was “hurting” them.

The couple recalled that they both felt “isolated and terrified” throughout the experience. Several minutes after the object appeared, it moved several feet to the east and then simply hovered motionless. It remained there for two and a half hours until 4:30 am, when it began to him very loudly. At the same time, the object’s brightness grew in intensity. When the object finally disappeared into the distance, both of the dogs, as well as the children settled down and returned to normal.

One more thing of interest to note is that while the object hovered overhead, the wife began “hearing sounds throughout the house”. She continued that “any other night they wouldn’t have meant a thing, but (on this night) they were terrifying”. Were these sounds in the witness’s imagination? Were they simply noises with rational explanations? Or might they have indeed been connected to the otherworldly vehicle outside their home?

The Unsettling Encounter Of Mr. And Mrs. L

According to an article in the November-December 1974 edition of the APRO Bulletin, on the evening of July 22nd, 1974, Mr. and Mrs. L had just returned home to St. Cyrille, in Quebec, Canada from a holiday in Florida. [3] Mrs. L had been so tired that she had gone straight to bed. Mr. L, on the other hand, remained in the living of their house trailer in order to watch a late-night television show. As it happened, although there were other house trailers on the plot, on this particular night, Mr. and Mrs. L were the only family at the site.

By the time the television show Mr. L was watching had finished, it was around 1:15 am. He turned the television set off and was preparing to go to bed when heard a strange bumping sound as if something had been dropped on the ground outside. He walked to the window and pulled the curtain back enough to peek outside. To his surprise, he could see a “reddish-orange round object” that was hovering over one of the fields opposite the trailer.

At this point, Mr. L rushed into the bedroom to wake his wife. As he did so, he heard another sound, this time like a “buzzing”. He quickly looked outside once more, and this time was greeted with the sight of a “robot-like creature”. He recalled that it was around six feet tall and was barely 15 feet away from the trailer.

By now his wife was awake, and the couple rushed back to the living room and looked out of that window. To their shock, three more of the robot-like creatures were outside on this side of the trailer. These figures were seemingly examining one of the other nearby trailers, paying particular attention to the wheels.

The couple remained in their trailer, peeking out of the window every few minutes to see if the creatures were still there. At one point, they counted around 15 robots outside, each looking around as if on some kind of reconnaissance mission. They remained outside in varying numbers until 4:20 am. During the night, the couple noted that they appeared to move as if they were “remote-controlled”.

Sketch of the witnesses saw

Over the following days, Mr. and Mrs. L discovered what appeared to be landing marks on the ground where Mr. L had seen the object hovering over the field, suggesting that it had landed. What’s more, not only did they find these marks in one location, but three (although it was unclear if the object had landed in three separate locations or if there had been more than one craft).

They also learned that one of their neighbors – a farmer – had found his dog hiding and nervous the following day, as if it had witnessed something untoward during the night.

The Angel Maria Tonna Encounter

At around 4 am on February 18th, 1977 in Salto, Uruguay, 52-year-old Angel Maria Tonna, and his foreman, Juan Manuel Fernandez, were guiding around 80 cows toward the barn for milking. [4] As he herded them into the barn, however, the lights suddenly went out. At the same time, an extremely bright light appeared near the far side of the barn.

At this point, Tonna, thinking that hay was on fire at the far end of the barn (which he believed had caused the power cut), rushed toward the light. The next thing he knew a sudden noise sounded out. When he looked in the direction of the noise he could see “a fiery disc like two plates placed face to face” that was hovering a short distance above the ground. For a moment, he stood there mesmerized watching the object. Then, Fernandez’s voice reached him, telling him the cows were “running away”. The foreman’s voice brought Tonna to his senses and he noticed the dogs were barking frantically and the cows “were going crazy”.

The object began to move away from the barn, breaking branches from a nearby tree as it did so. Tonna recalled that the object moved with a “rocking motion”. It came to a stop after several moments and hovered directly over the top of a group of trees a short distance from the barn, approximately 60 feet from the ground. A moment later, however, it moved once more, this time stopping above the concrete baths that were used to disinfect the cattle.

By now, with events more than shaking Tonna, he ran back toward the barn and climbed over the fence looking to take some kind of cover, his dog, Topo, following quickly behind him. The light from the object was so bright that the entire barnyard and surrounding area was lit up. Then, things took a particularly strange turn.

Feelings Of Electricity And Intense Heat

Tonna suddenly felt a strange attraction to the light, as if he felt compelled to walk toward it, which he ultimately began to do. Almost immediately after he began in its direction, the UFO turned and then set off in his direction. The object stopped around 60 feet from him. While Tonna remained where he was, Topo ran toward the object, barking furiously. When it was a very short distance away, it suddenly came to a stop on a small mound. It then looked directly upward toward the object and let out a piercing howl.

The object then began moving once more, passing directly over the top of him. As it moved, he could now see three beams of light on each side of the object that looked “like small wings”. Of more concern, however, were the bizarre electric shock-like feelings that went through him as the object moved overhead – shocks that also felt that an “intense heat” was passing over him. At this point, he covered his face with his hands in an effort to protect himself from the electrifying heat, although he remained where he was. He later offered that he wasn’t sure if he “couldn’t move or didn’t want to”.

Eventually, the object began to move away from him, increasing in speed as it did so. He noted that the faster it got, the more the color changed from a bright orange to a dark red. After several moments, it had disappeared into the distance. As soon as it had left Tonna could hear the generator restart. However, as all of the powerlines had been burnt out during the encounter, the buildings still remained without power.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, Tonna’s 19-year-old son, Tulio, had also witnessed the events from one of the windows of the house, while several other farmers from nearby farms, although not witnessing the events themselves, did later confirm they had seen the strange orange-red light heading into the distance.

Although the incident itself was over, there were still some aftereffects of the encounter to come, one of which was particularly grim.

An Ominous Turn Of Events

Later that morning, Tonna began noticing that the side of his hand and arm that had faced the object when he had shielded his face began to ache, and increasingly so. After several days, Tonna’s friend, Dr. Bruning Herrera, visited the farm and examined Tonna’s arm. By this point, the affected area was severely red and clearly irritated. Herrera concluded that the injury was likely caused by exposure to radiation. Although he advised Tonna to seek the help of a specialist, he declined to do so due to the nearest such specialist being 300 miles away in Montevideo. He, ultimately, treated the arm himself using home remedies. After several weeks, his arm returned to normal and he suffered no further pain or irritation from it.

His dog, Topo, however, was not so lucky. In the days following the encounter, the dog simply stopped eating and drinking, and was clearly not himself, staying inside the house – something that was completely out of the norm for him. Three days after the incident, although there were no outward signs of any physical injury, Tonna discovered Topo’s dead body on the very mound he had unleashed the blood-curdling howl below the object.

When the autopsy was performed (which included the assistance of Tulio who was a veterinary student), some ominous and unsettling discoveries were made. They found that the “hair along the animal’s spine was sticky but completely hard”. What’s more, “the fat under the skin was found on the outside”. The doctor concluded that “to get outside (the fat) had to be melted and come through the pores” where it then “solidified again”. This heat, however, almost appeared to be generated internally, as the outer skin of the animal showed no burn marks or exposure to heat.

Ultimately, the poor canine had been exposed to an extremely high temperature, which had resulted in the blood vessels breaking down resulting in intense internal bleeding. Furthermore, again due to the high heat, the dog’s liver – normally dark red – was a sickly yellow color. While the official report didn’t blame the UFO for causing the dog’s death, if we accept Tonna’s version of events – events corroborated by his son, Tulio – then it is clear that the source of that fatal heat came from the otherworldly vehicle.

Wildlife Grows Eerily Silent As UFO Approaches

Around eight months after the encounter in Uruguay, on the North American continent in America, another bizarre encounter unfolded. [5] According to an article in the January 7th, 1978 edition of the Moline Daily Dispatch, an 18-year-old woman in Walcott, Iowa – who wished to remain anonymous – witnessed a strange and mysterious object moving over the town in complete silence.

The witness was at work manning the watchtower as security at one of the town’s power plants when she noticed an oval-shaped object with what looked like “bright headlights” on the front. As the object headed in her direction, her radio and walkie-talkie suddenly ceased working. Even more disturbing, the sounds of the cows, cattle, and other wildlife in the surrounding area suddenly grew silent.

She stood, overlooking her surroundings from the watchtower, noticing that lights and televisions in nearby properties were also seemingly turning off. At this point, any outside hope that the object was nothing more than a helicopter vanished – not least as she still could not hear the typical sounds of a helicopter – and she left the post to find other witnesses. By the time, she had returned, however, the object was no longer there.

Just what the object might have been remains unknown. The detail of the cattle and other wildlife suddenly growing “silent” is of particular interest, though. Did they actually grow silent? Or could it have been that the witness – and all of those in a certain radius – were placed in a kind of “bubble” that isolated them from the outside world, with time perhaps even frozen temporarily? While this is certainly an outrageous suggestion, there are many UFO encounters on record where witnesses speak of a change in atmosphere, almost as if they have been placed in some kind of bubble. It is, at the very least, something to keep in mind.

Witness And Dog Experience Physical Effects From UFO Over France

A little over a decade later, at just before midnight on the evening of January 4th, 1994 in Fleury Sur Andelle in France, a local resident witnessed a bizarre cone-shaped object that had some rather unsettling physical effects. [6] It was around 11:50 pm, and the witness was watching television when he first noticed a bizarre orange light moving back and forth outside.

When he went to the window to see what the source of the light was, he saw a luminous cone-shaped object approaching his property. The object appeared to “turn around its axis” as it moved, and its exterior appeared to be made of “stripes of various colors”. Then, after coming to a stop and hovering for several moments, it suddenly shot off into the distance, becoming nothing but a speck of light in a matter of seconds. The witness stood and watched, mesmerized, as the object then gently approached the house once more.

As the object came closer, the witness recalled having a feeling that whatever intelligence was behind it, it was “observing him”. So much so, that a sudden feeling of panic rose in him, and he quickly backed away from the window and went into the bedroom. He periodically returned to the window to see if the object was still there – each time it was.

Then, as he was in the bedroom, he heard a loud sound from outside, as if something had struck the ground. This was followed by several bright flashes of light. As this was happening, the witness’s pet dog suddenly entered the room, clearly spooked and anxious about what was unfolding outside. It was at this point that the witness also began to feel “muscular contractions in his legs and the bottom of his back”. These continued for several minutes until the object suddenly disappeared for a second time, this time for good. The incident remains completely unexplained.

Dog Suffers Strange Aftereffects After UFO Sighting In Seattle

At around 10 pm on May 1st, 2003, in Seattle, Washington, a husband and wife had just pulled their car into their driveway and were making their way inside their house when something strange caught their eye. [7] The wife – who reported the encounter – claimed she had seen something in her peripheral vision which caused her to look upwards. To her shock, moving across the night sky was a triangular craft with dim orange lights at each corner, which the witness would further describe the lights as “striped rather than solid”, moving silently across the sky.

She and her husband watched the object for several minutes before it finally disappeared toward the northeast of downtown Seattle. While they saw nothing more of the strange triangular craft, they did notice some strange behavior displayed by their dog, who had been in the front yard, both during the sighting and for several hours while the couple had been out.

They noticed, for example, that their usually active and vibrant pet was “trembling” and very “lethargic”. Of more concern, he seemed unsteady on his feet, losing his balance several times. This only lasted a short time, although the dog appeared very restless for several days before returning to his usual self.

Following a report to the National UFO Reporting Center, investigators would speak to the witness and her husband at length. Both were found to be “exceptionally reliable” witnesses and ultimately, the case was viewed as very credible. Of course, we should note, that although they are witnessed around the world, there have been several waves of black triangular objects since the 1990s, not just in Seattle, but the entire west coast of the United States.

An Often Overlooked Detail In UFO Reports

As we can see, then, many UFO encounters have resulted in animals suffering severe agitation, anxiety, and even death. And those we have explored here today are just some of those kinds of cases on record. And while most of these incidents appear to be cases of these unfortunate animals being in the wrong place at the wrong time, some encounters do appear to be more purposeful.

Purposeful or not, if these unfortunate animals suffered such tragic consequences of close proximity interaction with these mysterious objects, then the same could be true for humans. Indeed, we know there are several cases where humans have lost their lives following such encounters. Ultimately, cases of animal reactions are just as important as cases that are rich in detail from human witnesses. All of which contribute increasingly finer details to the mystery that is the UFO and alien question.

Perhaps one of the clearest things we should take away from these animal reaction cases is that whatever these strange objects might be, they are most definitely real and not imagined. And this is certainly the case with sightings that have proven fatal. Essentially, these respective animals and their reactions, are corroborating witnesses to potentially otherworldly affairs.

The short video below examines some of the most interesting UFO cases on record.


1 Sheriff Reveals 1966 UFO Encounter And Death Of Dog, Mark Bowes, Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 1999
2 Terrified witnesses observe near-landing of UFO, UFO Evidence
3 Robots In Quebec, Canada, UFO Evidence
4 Dog dies after close encounter on ranch in Uruguay, UFO Evidence
5 Area ‘encounter’ defies explanation, Stacey Burling, Moline Daily Dispatch, Jan 7, 1978
6 Man observes cone-shaped object with lights; physiological effects in France, UFO Evidence
7 NUFORC Sighting 28647, National UFO Reporting Center

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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