ACT News

Pregnant woman too scared to walk the streets of Dunlop after dog attacks

A pregnant woman who had to fend off two large malamutes as they mauled her pet dogs is now too scared to walk the streets of Dunlop for fear of another attack.

Lauren Black believes poor-quality fencing and lack of maintenance on fencing in Dunlop is contributing to the problem of dangerous dogs roaming the suburb.

Dunlop mother-to-be Lauren Black  with her two injured dogs Lolli and Alfie. They were attacked by two roaming malamute ...
Dunlop mother-to-be Lauren Black with her two injured dogs Lolli and Alfie. They were attacked by two roaming malamute dogs. Mrs Black is too scared to walk her dogs in Dunlop. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Neither of the dogs that attacked was wearing a leash and there was no owner in sight.

Domestic Animal Services registrar Fleur Flanery has raised the possibility of fines increasing for owners who walk their dogs without a lead in areas where they should be on a lead.

Lolli, the miniature fox terrier, was mauled by a malamute dog in Dunlop and suffered a punctured lung and five broken ...
Lolli, the miniature fox terrier, was mauled by a malamute dog in Dunlop and suffered a punctured lung and five broken ribs Lolli weighs only 4.5 kilograms whereas a malamute can weigh more than 40kgs. Photo: Supplied

Mrs Black spent $5000 on vet fees for the injuries to her dogs Lolli and Alfie who required three nights in intensive care.

But the attacks have also had a lasting effect on the mum-to-be who is now 25 weeks' pregnant.

"I don't feel safe walking the dogs around Dunlop," she said. "And when the baby comes, I don't want to walk the baby around in a stroller."

Mrs Black said she would instead take her dogs to areas just opened to on-leash walking such as Weston Park and Black Mountain Peninsula.

"I feel if the owners have taken the trouble to bring their dogs to these areas, they are likely to be responsible owners and keep their dogs on a lead," she said.

The attacks on her dogs happened three days before Christmas when she was 20 weeks' pregnant. She was on a walking path with her dogs on their leads when she saw the two malamutes about 50 metres away.

"Basically they just came running at my dogs," she said. "One took Alfie and the other took Lolli.

"I was back and forth between the two of them, screaming at them to try to break their concentration.

"I've worked in dog rescue and I was trying to get them to pay attention to me. I was yelling at them really loudly.

"They eventually dropped them and I was able to shoo them off. Lolli was bleeding profusely, she had a punctured lung and five broken ribs." Alfie had puncture wounds to his back.

Another Dunlop resident found Lolli's collar on the blood-splattered footpath after it fell off in the attack. That person told Mrs Black her dog had also been attacked by a roaming dog.

Mrs Black said she and her husband had been concerned about the state of fencing in Dunlop and a DAS ranger had suggested it was also a problem because cheaper materials were being used in the newer suburbs.

"They told me they were getting an average of four to five dog attack reports daily over the holiday period, down to one a day now, and that they have tried to bring attention to the fact that the newer suburbs are becoming a serious problem for them with renters not taking responsibility for poor fencing and the wellbeing of their dogs," she said.

Ms Flanery said she couldn't confirm from the Domestic Animal Service database if there had been more attacks in the newer suburbs or if gaping fences had been the problem.

"I totally acknowledge if you've been involved in a dog attack there is that real anxiety and fear," she said.

"I know the rangers have had a number of conversations with Mrs Black. They did attend with her to see if the dogs could be positively identified but unfortunately she was unable to do so."

Ms Flanery said changes in 2014 saw the maximum penalty for dog attack offences that caused serious injury to a person or animal increased to $14,000 (from $7000) and also include imprisonment for one year.

"There are responsibilities when you own a dog and one of those is that they're not roaming," she said.

"Certainly under consideration are those fines where people are walking their dogs without a leash where that is prohibited, to get that first level of compliance. It's a question to consider - would increased fines make people more compliant?"

The fine for walking a dog without a leash in the correct areas was $75.

Ms Flanery said there were eight DAS rangers in the ACT and about 120,000 dogs.

She said no matter how many rangers there were, owners had to take responsibility for their own dog.