Georgia Richardson said a large white dog, accompanied by an Alsatian, attacked her one-year-old cavoodle Coco in a Deumonga Court in Ngunnawal. Her dog was on a lead; the other dogs were running around the neighbourhood off-leash and without an owner in sight.
“I was the most traumatised I’ve ever been in my life,” Ms Richardson, 49, said.
Both strays ran at her dog and Mrs Richardson was forced to retreat to a house that looked like it had someone home.
She got to the fourth step of the house when the white dog attacked.
“It grabbed my dog and threw it from side to side in its mouth like a rag doll. I was trying to pull and pull my dog away,” she said.
“I was screaming, ‘Help me, help me’.”
No one was actually home at the house. It was only when a woman from across the road came out from her house to help, that the dogs ran away. The Good Samaritan then drove Ms Richardson and Coco to a vet in Gungahlin.
“I believe if it had not been for her, Coco would have bled to death in the street because I was nowhere near my own car,” Ms Richardson said.
Coco ended up needing 14 staples in his left hind leg and there is a possibility of nerve damage.
Mrs Richardson was astounded when she was told at the end of the consultation that the owner of the attack dog had already contacted the vet and paid the $368 bill for Coco’s treatment.
“I am very fortunate in that respect. A lot of people who go through this are very much out of pocket,” she said.
Ms Richardson said it was the fourth dog attack she or her family had suffered in Canberra over the past decade. She was concerned about walking her dog in the future and the impact of the attack not only on Coco, but on her 11-year-old son Owen, who was closest to the pet.
“He has been such a calm dog and I’m worried how he will be now,” she said.
The vet told Ms Richardson Coco was lucky to not be more seriously injured and it was only her actions that saved him from being mauled more savagely.
It’s understood police caught the dogs initially and then handed them to Domestic Animal Services.
The ACT Liberals are continuing their efforts to strengthen dog attack laws. They have already proposed that all dogs under investigation be impounded, something the government has rejected, saying it would lead to the Domestic Animal Services shelter being overrun.
The latest proposal from the Liberals doubles the fee for dangerous dog licences from $750 per year to $1500.
It also removes a $60 fee for people who want to surrender a dangerous dog.
Ms Lawder said Urban Services Minister Chris Steel wanted to “punish responsible dog owners because, by his own admission, his government does not have the facilities to impound dangerous dogs that grievously injure people and their pets”.
“We should be incentivising responsible dog ownership and discouraging dangerous dog ownership. If Mr Steel wants dangerous dogs at large in the community, then he shouldnât get responsible dog owners to pay for it,” she said.
Mrs Richardson said, on the face of it, she agreed with the changes proposed by the Liberals, particularly as she had heard that laws in jurisdictions such as Queensland were much stricter in terms of dangerous dogs.
“From what I’m hearing, I’m surprised how lenient things are here,” she said.
Mr Steel said Ms Lawderâs proposal to double the cost of a dangerous dog licence was “an empty political gesture”.
“Of the nine dogs declared dangerous last year, seven were handed back [to Domestic Animal Services] to be euthanised. Of the eight dogs declared dangerous so far this year, seven have been euthanised,” he said.
“Ms Lawderâs proposed legislation introduces mandatory seizure of any dog reported to [Domestic Animal Services]. This includes mandatory seizure of a dog that has been reported to have harassed or demonstrated aggressive behaviour. There does not have to have been a report of any injury. Ms Lawderâs proposed legislation also introduces mandatory investigation into any complaint,” Mr Steel said.
“So far this year over 600 complaints have been made to DAS and an average investigation takes around 28 days. No one would reasonably expect the ACT government to be warehousing hundreds of dogs â the vast majority of which will ordinarily be found not to be a threat to the community at large.”
Megan Doherty is a reporter for The Canberra Times