On Sunday, 19th March 2017 my dog Canon and I set out for our early morning beach walk at Semaphore Park. The moment we reached the sand we were spotted by a large brown, unleashed dog which ran to attack.
The dog’s owner(s) stood and watched as I wrestled with their animal trying to release its jaws from my terrified dog. They had no control over their dog while it tried to kill mine.
Eventually, I managed to unlock its jaws and the owner pulled it away by its collar while I smothered myself over my badly injured dog to protect it, telling them to get their animal away from us.
I carried Canon home and called the Adelaide Animal Emergency Centre, hoping that it wasn’t too late. He spent 14 hours at the Emergency Centre having his horrific wounds tended to. His back was ripped open requiring many stitches and his leg suffered terrible muscle damage, both injuries required drainage tubes to release the fluid build up.
It was especially devastating when the Vet called to say that they may need to amputate his leg; fortunately, the x-rays showed that would not be necessary.
THIS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN!
Canon’s photo posted on Facebook to try and find witnesses
The response to my Facebook post and photo was overwhelming. It was shared more than 1,660 times, also attracting 779 comments. The following day ABC Radio called for an interview, TV networks 7, 9 and 10 came to film Canon and record interviews and the Messenger Newspaper wrote an article.
As responsible dog owners, we have NO PROTECTION whatsoever from our Councils under the current Dog & Cat Management legislation. The Police are not interested either.
If I was walking with a child that fateful morning it would not be just another dog attack – it would be a dead child. The irresponsible owner(s) of the dog will be back on the beach again with their dangerous animal and this saga will keep occurring until something is done to change the laws.
Hence the Adelaide Dog Attack Register!
In the Animal Management Plans published by most SA Councils they’re aware that many attacks do not get reported.
From my own experience, whether you report the attack or don’t report it – the outcome will largely be the same – NO ACTION. Many of the people who followed Canon’s story via this Facebook post recounted similar experiences to my own.
My hope with this Dog Attack Register is that we can bring about changes to the legislation that will allow us to walk our dogs on a leash in safety and prevent this happening to the pets of other responsible dog owners.
I would like to express my eternal gratitude to the wonderful vets and staff at The Adelaide Animal Emergency Centre and Port Adelaide Veterinary Clinic for saving Canon’s life and nursing him back to health.
MEDIA COVERAGE ABOUT THE ATTACK
FOLLOW UP MEDIA COVERAGE
HOW TO REPORT AN ATTACK
Witnessing your dog being attacked is stressful, reporting it shouldn’t be
The current council reporting process is not ideal, it will likely require a day off work to go to your local council office to give a statement. In addition to the inconvenience, the form itself bears little resemblance to the reality of a savage attack and its aftermath.
Even if you follow the recommended process there’s a high probability it will make no difference to the outcome.
Of the estimated 100,000 dog attacks / harassments that happen each year in Australia only 1 in 5 get reported (for a variety of reasons). The Adelaide Dog Attack Register aims to make reporting easier for South Australian dog owners in the following ways:
- It’s 100% confidential
- You can choose whether you wish to submit the report to council
- The reporting process is easy and available 24×7 (not closed on weekends)
- Witnesses can contact you confidentially with information
- Attack reports will be publicised widely via social media
Changes to legislation will only happen if there is evidence to support them
- Report title is set to 36 characters to fit on a 1 line in both the website & council report should you wish to submit it
- Date, time & suburb identify when and where the attack occurred. When you enter the suburb it will automatically populate the local council should you wish to send the report to them
- Dog photo. If you managed to get a photo of the responsible dog you can upload it with your report. (If you need help to resize or crop the image you can use this online tool)
- Incident type Attack or Harassment / Rush
- Attack report, this is limited to 270 words which should allow 4 or 5 paragraphs to describe the attack details (if reports are too long, people are less likely to read them. The aim of this site is to encourage witnesses to contact you if they have information). This online word count tool may be useful
- Breed of dog, most common problematic breeds are at the top of the list, but if you enter the first 3 letters of any dog the system will find it for you
- Was dog leashed? this will show how many attacks happen due to unleashed dogs
- Where did attack happen? this will show how dangerous our public parks, dog parks and beaches really are (or conversely, maybe they are quite safe)
- Owner identified? There isn’t any data available in Australia that shows how many irresponsible owners leave the scene of the crime
- Vet required? how many attacks require medical attention? Currently, no one knows
- Owner paid fees? If the dog’s owner accepted responsibility, did they pay the vet bills?
- Cost of treatment. This is really important. An irresponsible dog owner may get a fine of $210 ($315 in July) whereas victims are often left with thousands of dollars worth of medical bills. What is the real cost of dog attacks in dollar terms? When you enter the cost of your vet bills it will add to the animated number on the home page of the website
- Contact me with information, you can enter your email address to allow witnesses to contact you confidentially. Your email address is never displayed
- Would you like to submit your report to the council where the attack happened? If you click the YES button, additional fields will appear to allow you to enter contact details and information about your dog to send to the council.
- Submitting the report. If you select the NO button (don’t send report to council) it will be submitted to the Adelaide Dog Attack Register for *approval). If you selected YES, the full report will go the local council and the top half of the report will be posted to the Adelaide Dog Attack Register for *approval
*ALL Reports are vetted prior to publication
This is to ensure names and / or contact details are not included in the reports and that uploaded images are ONLY of dogs.
Unfortunately, NONE of these things will keep your dog safe. The ONLY thing that will, is changes to dog ownership laws. In the meantime, there is NO PROTECTION other than risk minimisation. Stay away from public parks, beaches and dog parks where dogs are unleashed.