Snoopy the Jack Russell was sitting on the lap of his owner Robert Thompson when a neighbour’s dog charged up the driveway, grabbed Snoopy in his jaws and viciously shook and mauled the terrified dog leaving him with more than 40 stitches and injuries that have still to fully heal more than three months after the attack.
It took Mr Thompson and three others to prise Snoopy, 9, out of the jaws of the other dog, which is believed to have been a Staffordshire terrier-type breed.
The attack on Snoopy was one of 137 dog attacks reported to the City of Ballarat last financial year, but council officers believe many more go unreported.
“I was sitting with Snoopy on my knee, and the next minute this dog raced up, pulled him off me and was shaking him around like a rag doll,” Mr Thompson said.
Mr Thompson rushed Snoopy, who was bleeding and in shock, to the vet where he had four hours of surgery to clean out and stitch up his wounds. Snoopy received 44 stitches and Mr Thompson a $1200 vet bill.
“It chewed his legs and along his neck and back. Where he had him in his teeth Snoopy had about 44 stitches,” Mr Thompson said.
Mr Thompson was holding a garage sale at his Wendouree home on April 7 when the unprovoked attack occurred, and Snoopy had spent a happy morning on his owner’s lap receiving pats from visitors.
“He’s our baby. He was sitting on my lap because everyone who comes loves to give him a pat, then this dog came charging up the driveway,” Mr Thompson said.
After freeing Snoopy from his attacker’s jaws, the dog was locked inside the shed and council rangers called. It is believed the dog spent two weeks at the pound before being euthanased.
City of Ballarat executive manager of regulatory services Amy Boyd said of the 137 dog attack reports, most involved dogs rushing, menacing, chasing, threatening and scaring other dogs, animals and people.
Only about six involved dogs attacking or menacing people, and only two people required medical attention.
“I was sitting with Snoopy on my knee, and the next minute this dog raced up, pulled him off me and was shaking him around like a rag doll.”Robert Thompson
“Often we find people who are attacked are bitten when they intervene in a situation. Fortunately we haven’t had an attack where a dog has just set upon a person,” Ms Boyd said.
But council believe the true number of dog attacks is massively under-reported.
“Attack reports will always come to us but what we don’t hear about is dog attacks on private property and we expect those attacks are under-reported. There have been reports commissioned about numbers of people presenting to casualty after dog attacks showing pet attacks on their own family are very much under-reported.
“We mainly receive reports on dog attacks in public places or when they get on to other people’s property.”
And there is no one breed responsible for a significant proportion of attacks.
“All dogs are capable of attacking … and we need to start showing people we take it really seriously and there is a rigorous process of investigation right through to prosecution if that is needed.”
In the 2017/18 financial year, council declared 20 dogs “menacing” leaving owners facing higher registration fees and forcing the dogs to be muzzled and always on lead when in public.
Council officers are also concerned that only about half of Ballarat’s estimated 60,000 pet population is registered.
“We have about 30,000 registered but based on other regional cities and our knowledge we think only about half of the pet population is registered, which is in itself an issue,” said City of Ballarat director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo.
“We usually only pick up non-registered animals when they are picked up by a ranger or involved in an attack,” he said.
Dangerous dogs can be reported to City of Ballarat on the ‘dangerous dog hotline’ on 1300 101 080.
The attack on Snoopy came after The Courier also reported:
The death of Jack Russell terrier Rumble who was mauled to death on an evening walk in Sebastopol on the same day in April that Snoopy was attacked. Rumble’s distraught owner Irene Sinnott was left heartbroken and vowing never to own another dog again.
A 53-year-old woman admitted in Ballarat Magistrates Court last week that her three dogs attacked and killed more than 30 sheep at a Mount Mercer farming property last year. Nineteen pregnant ewes, 12 lambs and one ram died in the deadly attack. Two dogs were voluntarily euthanised while the third – a staffy-cross – was declared a dangerous dog.
In February, a heroic palomino horse fought off a large, vicious dog who attacked its rider in Linton. The woman in her 50s was riding alone when the aggressive, large-breed dog bit her leg and dragged her off the horse. The horse chased the dog away but sustained large gashes on its neck from the dog.
In October, a woman walking along Daylesford’s Smith St was fatally injured when a dog attacked her puppy. During the attack the woman tripped and hit her head and later died.
And over the Australia Day long weekend, miniature poodle Ralph was attacked by another dog at Lake Burrumbeet and in trying to save her dog, owner Carly Turner was bitten by the attacking dog, sustaining two puncture wounds on her thigh.