The pack mauling to death of a Rivett couple’s beloved cat in the front yard of their property on Monday morning has given extra impetus to an online petition calling for the ACT Government to take action on dangerous dogs.
Amanda Lyons said she had just let her black cat Jasper out the front door with her while she had a coffee about 6 am. Moments later she was startled by a kerfuffle in the garden and Jasper screaming.
She couldn’t see in the dawn light how many dogs were involved but knew there was more than one.
Ms Lyons said she saw them running across the road and down a battleaxe driveway leaving a trail of blood and fur.
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Upset at the amount of blood, she turned back to get her husband and they followed the trail down to the nearby reserve where they found three Staffordshire terriers, one with a gash under his eye.
“The dogs were just standing there, tails wagging , their ears down, acting like they were in trouble,” she said.
But Jasper was nowhere to be found and Ms Lyons hoped he was only wounded and in hiding.
Some time later her husband spoke to the owner who said the untagged dogs had been escaping his property by climbing up a tree and over the fence but appeared to be in denial about the attack, saying they had never gone for a cat before.
After quickly leafleting the neighbourhood, people whose property backs on to the reserve near where the dogs were seen called about midday to say they had found Jasper’s body.
“He didn’t really stand a chance. They were in pack hunting mode. It’s funny because Jasper actually loves dogs. He didn’t have a frame of reference for what was about to happen,” Ms Lyons said.
She said her husband had taken a video of the dogs and what they had done but the couple had not yet contacted Domestic Animal Services.
“I’m pretty heartbroken. I was hoping I’d wake up and find it’s all a bad dream,” she said.
Ms Lyons said she had nothing against the Staffordshire breed and didn’t want to see someone’s pet be put down.
“Because it’s not the animal’s fault for following nature but you can’t give them that opportunity. You train them and teach them and keep them away from situations.
“Three dogs roaming the streets at 6 am is not appropriate,” she said.
Ms Lyons said they would ask the dogs’ owner to cut down the tree and take measures to secure his property but if he was still in denial they would take the matter to DAS, show them the video and let them decide.
A skinny RSPCA kitten, Jasper turned into a ball of fluff who was a very affectionate animal and had never been in a fight with anyone or anything.
“He chose us. We were looking at another cat and he poked his paw out of the cage and grabbed us as we walked past,” she said.
He loved jumping on the car that was parked in the driveway.
“I’ve asked why didn’t you jump up? There were lots of places up he could have gone,” Ms Lyons said.
The online petition, started by Renee Dean and backed by the Canberra Liberals, says the ACT Government’s current method of managing dangerous dogs in Canberra is ineffective in deterring and responding to dog attacks, leaving victims of dog attacks financially, physically and emotionally deserted.
More than 400 people have already signed the petition.
It defines dangerous dogs as those that have attacked a person or other animal, causing physical injury or death, and is not aimed at particular breed.
The petition says the number of human and animal victims of dangerous dog attacks in Canberra is increasing at an alarming rate.
“In 2013, 84 people presented at ACT public hospital emergency departments as a result of a dog attack. In 2016, the number was 155. This means there is on average a dog attack on a person every second day. This figure excludes dog attacks that have not been reported. Furthermore, victims of dog attacks are left to pick up the financial, physical and emotional damage with little or no assistance from the Government, while the dangerous dogs are often merely licensed, given back to their owners and let out into the Canberra community once again,” it says.
“Your petitioners therefore request the Assembly to make Canberra suburbs and parks safe from dangerous dogs by amending legislation to clearly define on what grounds a dangerous dog should be put down and the ramifications for an owner of a dangerous dog after an attack.”
In August, RiotACT reported how a Gordon teenage boy required plastic surgery to his arm after a dog viciously attacked him in a suburban park.