Puppy owners distraught after fatal attack in park

KERRY MCBRIDE
Last updated 07:48 28/06/2013
Ralph
PUPPY LOVE: Henri Lyons, 9, holds Ralph, the schnoodle puppy attacked by greyhounds. Ralph died from his injuries.

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A puppy savaged by two greyhounds at a Wellington golf course has died after SPCA staff were unable to save it.

Margot Lyons was out walking her schnoodle puppy Ralph at Berhampore Golf Course on Tuesday morning when the two greyhounds came racing down a hill towards him.

All three dogs were off their leads, but the greyhounds were both muzzled.

"One of the muzzles came off and the dog got Ralph on his rear leg. The owners were doing everything they could and so was I, but we couldn't release the dog's jaw. It went on for 10 minutes and my puppy was just screaming."

The attack happened behind Wakefield Park, away from the usual dog-walking area, where several trees had come down in last week's storm.

Lyons and the owners of the greyhounds finally managed to separate the dogs and she rushed Ralph to the Newtown SPCA, where staff quickly tried to repair his leg wound. But after about four hours, Ralph's heart gave out and he died.

"He was such a fluffy, beautiful little puppy and such a massive part of the family. He looked a bit like a rabbit, and I guess it's that greyhound instinct to chase and kill rabbits."

Lyons and her husband, of Island Bay, had to tell their three young children what had happened, and they cried all night until they fell asleep, she said.

It was not the first time Ralph had had a run-in with the two greyhounds. About six months ago, the unmuzzled dogs "took a chunk" of fur out of him, but the owners restrained the dogs in time.

They had been muzzled every time she had seen them since, Lyons said.

"They did everything in their power to control the dogs, but it's that pack mentality. It's just what greyhounds do."

The owners had tried to give Lyons their details, but she was too distracted to deal with them at the scene.

"I've been utterly distraught. I feel desperately sad for the owners of the greyhounds, but they are a risk and there's lots of greyhounds around Wellington. We just don't want this to happen to any other family."

She understood the greyhounds had come from Greyhounds As Pets, a charity that rehomes retired racing greyhounds, and the owners were attempting to return the dogs.

The charity would not respond to a request for comment last night.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said it was aware of an incident at the council-owned golf course on Tuesday, but said officers would need to fully investigate what happened.

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"We would love to speak to the owners of the greyhounds, or anybody who knows who they are. We need to fully investigate before any decisions can be made."

DOG CONTROL

Under Wellington City Council's Dog Policy 2009, the council will consider prosecution if there is serious and sufficient evidence that a dog has caused significant damage or injury to any person or animal.

Under the Dog Control Act 1996, the owner of any dog which attacks a person or animal is liable to a fine of up to $3000 in addition to liability for damage caused by the attack.

There were 130 confirmed dog bites against people and animals reported to the Wellington City Council in the 2011-12 financial year - a 37 per cent increase in dog attacks from the same point in 2009-10.

- The Dominion Post

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