A woman whose dog swallowed a fish hook embedded in a piece of meat says she cannot fathom how a person could act so cruelly.
Trish Langford, who runs a pet care business, was taking her dogs Lucy and Mr Pip for their daily walk at Newport Lakes Park just before 8am on Saturday when Lucy, gobbled down the deliberately baited hook.
Although she saw the five-year-old retriever eat something, the Kingsville resident wasn't worried until another dog owner showed her a piece of fish-hook baited meat and other hooks strewn nearby.
"The meat was about an inch across with the 10mm fish hook clearly embedded on purpose," she said.
An x-ray taken at a local vet clinic clearly revealed the swallowed fish hook.
After an hour of unsuccessful probing at a specialist vet clinic in Kensington a surgeon was called to extract the hook.
The surgery cost more than $3000 and left a confused Lucy miserable and in pain, but Ms Langford is simply relieved her beloved dog appears likely to recover.
"She is lucky because if the hooks hadn't been pointed out to me and we hadn't gone to the vet it would be lodged in her bowel and that would really be trouble," she said.
Police have stepped up round-the-clock patrols of the area in response to multiple reports of baited meat at the site.
Senior constable Paul Davis said the culprit appears to be deliberately targeting dogs.
“It's a well known dog park and the areas where these pieces of meat were found were near [water] bowls for dogs,” he said.
"It's obviously preying on a vulnerable creature and that's why we are taking it very seriously."
Sen Cons Davis cautioned against panic but urges dog owners to remain alert.
Hobsons Bay Council has erected signs in the area warning people about the baiting.
Ms Langford urged dog owners to consider muzzling their dogs rather than being put off visiting the park.
"I think we should keep using the park because if their motivation is keeping dogs out of the area they shouldn't be allowed to succeed."
Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 18000 333 000.