A man filmed his dog attacking two therapy alpacas in Giralang on Tuesday night, making no attempt to stop the attack which left one alpaca with both its front legs broken and the other frightened, according to Alpaca Therapy.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday night, Alpaca Therapy said alpacas Mimosa and Hercules were attacked by a "black staffy" dog that was off its lead about 6.45pm.
Both Mimosa's front legs were broken in the attack and the alpaca had to be euthanised.
Nils Lantzke and Stephanie Dean have been making visits with therapy alpacas in Canberra for more than 15 years, making regular visits to hospitals, palliative care facilities, retirement villages and the city centre.
Mr Lantzke was shaken and distraught by the incident, and said that the body of the euthanised alpaca was taken out to a friend's farm on Wednesday morning for burial.
He told ABC Radio that he had been walking along a bike path in Giralang near the concrete causeway, towards to ovals when the incident occurred.
"A young man with a black staffy was coming towards us, so we moved the alpacas onto the grass and the young man brought his dog over," Mr Lantzke said.
"I said no, keep him away from the alpacas, and he persisted, starting filming and the dog [then] attacked.
"I was screaming at him get your dog off the alpacas. He didn’t. I said call him [the dog] back and he just didn’t do anything.
"The dog attacked the white boy [alpaca], then he went into the classic attack position on his hind legs and attacked the dog [in return].
"Then the dog turned to Mimosa. Mimosa is a tiny little girl. He [the dog] went to town on her. I hit the dog with a stick when I could. I was just yelling get him off, but there was no response.
Mr Lantzke said the owner continued to film while the attack was happening.
A friend of Mr Lantzke's, who had been holding the smaller alpaca, had to let go of the lead so she wasn't pulled to the ground.
"Mimosa [the smaller alpaca] then ran off with the dog after her, and then one of the people in Winaga Place near the bottom end. One of the residents came down and said your alpaca ran up here.
"We went up there as quickly as we could and Mimosa had tried to get home. When we found her, she was lying on the grass with a deep wound on her leg. The dog was nowhere to be seen.
"The last I saw of the dog, he was being held by the owner, finally.
"Mimosa was in terrible pain," Mr Lantzke said.
"Both front legs were broken and her left leg had been bitten to the bone. I had to call the vet and she was euthanised."
Mr Lantzke said the male dog owner was between 25 and 30 years old.
Alpaca Therapy has appealed for anyone with information, including anyone who sees the video of the attack, to let them know or contact Domestic Animal Services.
Alpaca Therapy has brought joy and comfort to many Canberrans. Ms Dean, from the organisation, told The Canberra Times in July that people become more relaxed after they pat and talk with the alpacas.
"It makes the environment a lot happier for everyone," she said at the time.
The ACT Minister for City Services, Chris Steel, said that the incident was under investigation and he understood that Domestic Animal Services had reached out to the owners of the alpacas.
He said that there were strong penalties in place for any owner who did not have effective control over an animal, and services staff were trying to identify the dog owner in this incident.
Mr Steel urged anyone with any information about this attack to provide it to Domestic Animal Services.
"We are treating this very seriously [and] I have full confidence DAS will investigate," he said.
While this was a matter for DAS, Mr Steel said the government would get in touch with police "to see if processes are correct", and to ensure a memorandum of understanding, which was created with police and government to cover these types of situations last year, was followed.
He said new dog control laws were introduced in late 2017 and as of January 2019, 43 dangerous dogs had been euthanised.
"Strong action has been taken in relation to dog attacks. Laws are part of the solution and we think the laws in process are working but we also need to focus on dog owners," he said.
He described it as "totally unacceptable to not have effective control of your dog in a public place, whether it is off-leash or in a leashed area".
"There are strong penalties in place," he added, with up to 15 penalty units. at $160 a penalty unit, to not have a dog under effective control.
He said fines of up to $2400 fines have been handed out to some dog owners.
He said that his department would be "looking into all of the circumstances of this case".
Domestic Animal Services has been contacted for comment.