POLL: Dog attacks terrorise family a second time

 LEE Smith is sorry he was forced to kill two vicious American Staffordshire terriers that were mauling his dog to death.

‘‘I wish I didn’t have to do it,’’ Mr Smith, 36, said last night.

Mr Smith may be remorseful but neighbours have labelled him a hero and thanked him for doing what authorities failed to do – protect them from dogs that some have labelled ‘‘monsters’’.

The killings were the culmination of a saga involving dogs at a Mirrabooka property that had terrorised residents and disrupted the peace for four years.

‘‘When is this ever going to stop?’’ Mr Smith said.

‘‘Do my children have to be killed?’’

Mr Smith’s two children, aged 12 and 10, were inside their house when their 10-year-old family dog Buddi was mauled to death by four American Staffordshire terriers at 3am on Tuesday.

Police are investigating the possibility that Mr Smith killed two of the dogs in self-defence.

No charges have been laid against him.

The dogs had escaped from the neighbouring property in question.

Mr Smith managed to stab and kill two of the dogs mauling Buddi, but two others escaped.

It was too late for Buddi, a calm Staffordshire-cattle cross, who died mainly from injuries suffered between his legs.

The other two dogs roamed the area after the attack before council rangers seized them – along with two other dogs from the property not involved in the attack.

They remain at the RSPCA pound pending the completion of investigations, a council statement said.

‘‘They attacked me and my dog in my front yard,’’ Mr Smith said.

‘‘I did defend myself, I stabbed two dogs to death when they tried to attack me while they were killing my dog.

‘‘I’ve been attacked, my missus almost got killed, now my dog’s been killed on his lead in his front yard.

‘‘They are savages.

‘‘One 55-kilo dog was head to head with Buddi, who was on his back on the ground, while three others were ripping his legs out.

‘‘He bled laying on my front yard in front of my children.’’

‘‘I stabbed one several times in the head and it died.

‘‘The other I stabbed repeatedly. I had a blade sticking through its rib cage and it was still trying to bite me.’’

The dogs that killed Buddi were the offspring of two dogs that attacked Mr Smith’s partner, Natalie Southam, in May last year.

On that occasion, two American Staffordshire terriers jumped two two-metre fences and attacked Ms Southam.

Ms Southam was left with injuries to her ear, neck and arms that required 19 stitches.

The two dogs in that attack were destroyed, after a Lake Macquarie City Council investigation.

The council has come under renewed scrutiny over the most recent attack, but has defended its record in handling dangerous dog incidents.

The owner was unable to be contacted.

Society of Companion Animal Rescuers spokeswoman Callie Redman said last May that she photographed dogs mauling each other on the property in October 2011.

"I warned the council about this," Ms Redman said, explaining that she gave the photos, along with residents’ accounts of the dogs acting dangerously, to the council, RSPCA and police.

Residents have already  told the council about dogs escaping, fighting,  killing puppies for food,  causing  distress to neighbours and  killing goats at the property.

Council denies inaction over complaints

LAKE Macquarie City Council has denied placing legal fears above public safety in its handling of dangerous dogs at Mirrabooka that have been terrifying residents for years.

The council had the power to protect the community, but was scared of being drawn into a legal battle, Society of Companion Animal Rescuers vice-president David Atwell said.

‘‘There is no excuse for the council not to have acted,’’ Mr Atwell said.

The council defended its record, saying it regularly prosecuted owners of dogs that attack. 

It often issued dangerous dog declarations to owners ‘‘where sufficient evidence exists’’.

‘‘Council has an excellent track record in defending prosecutions and appeals against dangerous-dog declarations,’’ a council statement said.

Mr Atwell said residents had been complaining about dangerous dogs at the Mirrabooka property for four years.

He said the council had ignored dozens of complaints about dogs acting in a dangerous and vicious manner at the property.

The council had failed to declare dogs at the property as dangerous, which would have forced the owner to keep them in secure enclosures.

‘‘Wyong council would have intervened a long time ago,’’ Mr Atwell said.

Activists protested at a council meeting last year and held signs saying, ‘‘Action not excuses’’.

Mr Atwell said former councillor Hannah Gissane urged council staff last year to meet the animal welfare group about dangerous dogs at the Mirrabooka property.

‘‘Council staff told Hannah a week later there was no way that meeting would take place and we never had that meeting,’’ Mr Atwell said.

Ms Gissane confirmed the meeting never happened.

A council statement said two meetings had been held previously with animal welfare groups ‘‘with no outcome reached’’.

The council said it prosecuted the dog owner after Natalie Southam was savaged by two dogs that escaped from the property last May

‘‘Toronto Local Court imposed fines and the dogs involved were destroyed with the owner’s consent,’’ it said.

‘‘As the dogs were destroyed it was obviously unnecessary to declare the dogs dangerous.’’

After the dogs were destroyed, the owner continued to keep dogs at the property – four of which were involved in the latest attack on Tuesday.

‘‘There was no reason to place restrictions on dog ownership on the owner of the property last year because the dogs involved were destroyed,’’ the council said. 

The council  had finalised terms of reference for a companion animal advisory committee and would be calling for expressions of interest from the community and animal welfare groups, the statement said.

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