Attack surprises dog charity

PUPPY LOVE: Henri Lyons, 9, holds Ralph, the schnoodle puppy attacked by greyhounds. Ralph died from his injuries.
PUPPY LOVE: Henri Lyons, 9, holds Ralph, the schnoodle puppy attacked by greyhounds. Ralph died from his injuries.

The charity which trained the greyhound that attacked a puppy in Wellington has defended the breed, saying it was the first attack by the former racing dogs that it has heard of.

The fluffy schnoodle puppy named Ralph died after it was attacked by one of two greyhounds at Berhampore Golf Course on Tuesday morning.

The puppy's owner said all three dogs were off their leads and the two greyhounds were muzzled, but one of the muzzles came free when the greyhounds raced down a hill towards Ralph, and the dog latched on to one of the puppy's hind legs.

After a 10-minute battle by the owners of the dogs, Ralph was prized free and taken to a vet, but after four hours of treatment the puppy's heart gave out and it died.

Jacqui Eyley, the programme director of Greyhounds as Pets which retrains and rehomes retired racing greyhounds, said today she had never heard of greyhounds attacking other dogs before.

"Mainly its greyhound being attacked by other dogs," she said.

"It is very unfortunate and we are very sorry for the woman who lost her dog."

Eyley said that while greyhounds were trained to chase "small and fluffy things", this was rigorously trained out of them by the charity.

All greyhounds that went through the programme spent time with cats and smaller dogs before being rehomed, she said.

"Half of them live in homes with cats," she said.

Owners were also advised to muzzle greyhounds when taking them for walks, particularly if there were two dogs.

Eyley said any dog that attacked another should be put down, although she stressed that it appeared from reports only one of the two greyhounds had bitten the puppy.

Ralph's owner, Margot Lyons, said it was not the first time the puppy had had a run-in with the 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 [the greyhounds' owners] did everything in their power to control the dogs, but it's that pack mentality. It's just what greyhounds do," she said.

"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 said the greyhounds' owners had tried to give her their details, but she was too distracted to deal with them at the time.

"I've been utterly distraught," she said.

"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."