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Irresponsible pet ownership in the spotlight after vicious attack on Nambucca senior

A wallaby mauled to death by dogs on Beilbys Beach is unfortunately not an isolated incident. Photo: supplied.

NAMBUCCA Heads senior Barbara Lake, 94, was viciously attacked by two dogs in the driveway of her home last month.

Her injuries were so severe Mrs Lake is still in hospital in Coffs Harbour and has undergone multiple surgeries to her legs.

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It is highly possible that this attack could have proven fatal if not for the action of Mrs Lake’s neighbours, who bravely came to the rescue.

“Not only am I left traumatised, hospitalised and seriously injured, but my neighbours have also been traumatised by the event,” Mrs Lake told News Of The Area.

“The dogs must have been bored and somehow dug their way out of an adjacent yard and attacked me while I was checking my mail.”

Social media response to this incident would indicate that Mrs Lake’s experience is not an isolated event and although most attacks are not as severe as this one, many Nambucca Valley locals are fed up with dealing with the results of irresponsible pet ownership.

Earlier this year a near-fatal dog attack on a woman in Condell Park in Sydney’s South-West, where police had to deploy tasers to subdue the animal, sent shock waves through the broader community and once again put the spotlight on irresponsible pet ownership and dangerous breeds.

The law in NSW is clear on who is liable in incidents where a dog attacks a person or another animal.

The Companion Animals Act 1998 may provide a degree of protection to an owner whose dog attacks as a result of a person or an animal trespassing onto the property on which the dog is kept; however, as a dog owner the law is clear that you are liable if your dog attacks a person or another animal.

In the case of the attack on Mrs Lake, one of the dogs was euthanized and the other was seized and placed in the Council pound while the often lengthy Menacing Dog Declaration Process takes place.

The owner of these dogs could be facing fines in excess of $2000.

While this year’s dog attack statistics are not yet clear, the online dog owner community webpage Dogster reports that 1,027 dog bites were reported in the first three months of 2022 alone.

Each year across Australia there are an average of 2016 hospital admissions attributed to dog attacks.

Unfortunately sightings of dogs roaming without collars and unsupervised or restrained are common in the Nambucca Valley.

Nambucca Valley Council, like other local governments in NSW, requires that all companion animals such as dogs and cats are registered, a requirement under the Companion Animals Act.

A one-off registration fee applies for lifetime registration of all animals except working dogs, which are required to be registered but no fee is applicable.

While the Nambucca Valley has significant areas marked as ‘off leash’ to cater for dog owners, News Of The Area spoke to concerned locals who were confronted by dogs not leashed on beach and park areas where either leashes were not being used or areas that were supposed to be off limits to dogs.

WIRES Mid North Coast representatives advised News Of The Area that it is not only humans affected by irresponsible pet ownership.

Many injured wildlife coming into the care of WIRES volunteers are victims of dog and cat attack.

WIRES volunteers also report that wallabies have been mauled to death by unrestrained dogs in the area of Beilbys and Shelly Beach, Nambucca Heads.

A petition to put pressure on Council to increase vigilance regarding irresponsible pet ownership was launched on social media in February this year and has gained momentum following the attack on Mrs Lake.

This week local lady Rebecca Willow reposted links to the petition on the Nambucca Valley Community Notice Board Facebook page voicing her concern, and echoing the concerns of others, about the risk posed by the numbers of dogs roaming the streets in the Nambucca Valley.

By Mick BIRTLES

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