A dog living on a property owned by the US embassy has been linked to three separate attacks in the past 18 months, but investigations have been hampered by diplomatic considerations.
No action has yet been taken over the attacks, which included one on a four-year old girl, two attacks on adult neighbours of the Stirling property, and one on another dog.
The ACT's domestic animal service confirmed it had been called to the latest attack on October 25 and had spoken to the Australian Federal Police diplomatic unit.
In last month's attack, Stirling woman Livia Auer was bitten on her legs and backside when two German shepherds escaped their yard at a home owned by the embassy and occupied by a diplomat. Less than an hour earlier, one of the dogs had attacked a child and her mother playing in the front yard of their home.
A spokesman for the AFP said, while the diplomatic unit had been made aware of the incident, it was not handling the matter. Any further diplomatic considerations would lie with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Ms Auer believes the investigation has been slowed by a claim of diplomatic immunity. She said ACT authorities told her on Monday that their "hands were tied" and the case had hit a "roadblock" as foreign diplomats in Canberra were not compelled to cooperate with investigations by domestic animal services. The rangers had also been unable to enter the property.
Facing medical bills and having been forced to take time off work since the attack, Ms Auer now intends to launch legal action.
A spokesman for Transport Canberra and City Services confirmed authorities had attended Lochee Place, Stirling, in response to reports of two separate attacks.
The dogs came from a home owned by the US embassy, he said, but he was unaware of any previous attacks involving diplomats. All complaints of dog attacks were taken seriously and investigated, he said.
While he said "no incidents involving these dogs have been reported previously to DAS", The Canberra Times has learnt of an earlier incident in September 2016 where the same dogs mauled a neighbour's 14-year-old Jack Russell.
Susan Curbishley said she had written to the American embassy raising concerns about the dogs after they "ripped little Jackson to shreds" but had never heard back, and ACT authorities had not taken the case any further.
In the most recent incident, Ms Auer said she had been dropping off her assistance dog at home on her lunch break when she saw the two dogs roaming the street.
"I told my mum to lock the dogs inside and I ran out to call them off the road, I thought they might get hit by a car," she said.
While one dog came over and started heading home, the second dog charged. In a moment, its teeth had sunk into her leg. She fought it off and the dog turned away to follow the other.
"Then it had some sort of brain snap and came at me again," she said.
She pushed it off and ran inside.
The US embassy confirmed it was aware of the incident and "working with Australian authorities on the matter".
Since the attack, Ms Auer is wary of walking her dog, Peppa, and now takes a "weapon" such as a walking stick or a tennis racquet when she steps out her front door, even to check the mail. As an assistance dog, Peppa helps Ms Auer with the anxiety she developed after her house was destroyed in Canberra's 2003 bushfires.
"Anyone I tell about the diplomatic immunity laughs, my doctors, my lawyer laughed. It's just a joke," Ms Auer said.
The neighbour involved in the other October 25 attack, who did not want her name published, said she had received bite bruises on her leg and her four-year-old daughter had been clawed down her back.
"Genuinely out of nowhere I saw one of the dogs come flying at my daughter, it was like a movie," she said.
Her "supermum" instincts had kicked in, she said. She grabbed her daughter, shook off the dog which was by then biting her own leg, and ran inside.
"I've always loved dogs but this was absolutely terrifying. I keep seeing that dog flying at my daughter. It's an image I can't get out of my head."
She hadn't had previous problems with the dogs, and the owners had told her their front gate had been left open by accident on the day.
Ms Curbishley said when her dog had been attacked last year authorities had told her there was nothing they could do because her dog had been found in the attacking dogs' yard.
"One had caught him by the throat and they were tossing him in the air, it was horrific," she said. "But we still don't know what happened. Jackson's tiny and he's meant to have climbed a tree to get over a six foot tall fence? They might have dragged him under it.
"The first thing I said to DAS was 'What if this had been a child?'."
The owners had called to apologise, but had not offered to pay the $2000 vet bill, she said. Her dog made a full recovery.
The attack on Ms Auer happened the same day Tania Klemke was mauled to death by her own dog in her Watson home, on the other side of the city, an event that brought the issue of dog attacks in Canberra to a head and sparked debate on new dog control laws.
The owners of the dogs, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have been contacted for comment.