A BALLARAT vet has urged pet owners to ensure their gates are child-proof after a three-year-old girl allowed two dangerous dogs to escape and attack a whippet yesterday, leaving it fighting for its life.
Wendouree’s Tom Chambers was walking his daughter’s four-year-old dog, Tilly, along Gregory Street when she was set upon by what was believed to have been two large Staffordshire Terrier cross-breeds.
Mr Chambers said the two dogs picked up Tilly, who was on a lead, and threw her around like a rag doll, piercing her neck and tearing a large chunk out of the side of her body.
Tilly managed to escape and run home, with the pair of dogs giving chase, while Mr Chambers sustained bites to his hand and leg, requiring hospital treatment.
Police were called to the incident and were soon able to locate the child, while both dogs were seized by City of Ballarat rangers.
“What really concerned me was when I saw the little girl nearby, I didn’t know where the dogs had come from,” Mr Chambers said.
“It was a completely unprovoked attack. I believe these dogs should be banned, especially when you see them do something like that.”
After running home and being found by Mr Chambers’ wife Lorraine, Tilly was rushed to the Wendouree Clinic of the Ballarat Veterinary Practice.
Much of the skin was torn off her torso, and Dr Richard Lawrence and nurses performed the life-saving two-hour operation to re-attach the skin and conduct internal observations.
“It was probably one of the worst dog attacks I’ve seen,” Dr Lawrence said.
“The amount of skin that got torn off was disturbing, but you can see that quite often with whippets. The teeth have gone through the muscle under the ribs, but they are very resilient dogs and she is doing quite well.”
Speaking to The Courier last night, Dr Lawrence said Tilly was in a critical but stable condition.
Dr Lawrence said the incident served as a warning for people to “child-proof” their fences.
“People should really treat animals in the same way they would in protecting kids from a pool,” he said.
“You don’t let small children near a pool, so you shouldn’t let them near a gate where animals can escape.”
Dr Lawrence said it was likely Tilly would have to undergo further operations, but remained hopeful she would make a full recovery, despite some significant scarring.
City of Ballarat general manager city infrastructure Eric Braslis said the dogs had been seized and were being held in the pound while an investigation was conducted.
“Given the matter remains subject to ongoing investigation it is not appropriate to make any further comment at this stage,” Mr Braslis said.
One witness to the incident said it was “horrific” to watch.
“First of all I just heard people screaming and the first thing I saw was the two big dogs with the whippet in their mouths,” said Gregory Street resident Glenis Morey.