Page 1204 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017

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Had my daughter’s pet been maimed or killed where we stood, I’m unsure what would have followed irrespective of the consequences. But I do know that my first thought was not to calmly petition the ACT Government for yet another self-exculpatory inquiry into dangerous pets. Our dog survived. But I now carry a heavy stick whenever we go for a walk. The stick is not just to ward off magpies.

These stories are shocking: stories of people being forced to witness horrific acts of cruelty on their beloved pets, people frightened to leave their homes, and people justifiably concerned for the safety of themselves and more especially their children and grandchildren.

As an example of how we have lost control of the things that really matter, I would like to refer to an incident that was reported on the front page of last Sunday’s Canberra Times and which prompted a powerful editorial, which I will come back to later. The incident was a terrible recent event concerning the death of a small dog killed at Yerrabi pond in January. I will read extracts from the impact statement from the owners of the dog, Peter and Maree Toscan. The Toscans are in the gallery today, along with Dr Paul Crowhurst. They are dog owners, and they are also victims of dangerous dog attacks. I thank them for sharing their experiences with the community and also for coming along here this morning. Some people will find the Toscans’ story that I am about to read distressing. The Toscans’ report reads in part:

At around 7.30 pm on the evening of the 31st of January 2017 I was subjected to the most horrific event that I have had to endure in my 66 years, when “Buzz” our small family pet of 13 years was spontaneously attacked … whilst I was taking him for a short walk around the western end of Yerrabi pond in Amaroo.

As Buzz and I rounded the small western end of Yerrabi pond and commenced walking across the footbridge I noticed the three large pit bulls who were standing on the bridge with two young men holding them on leads.

… one of the dogs lunged at Buzz taking him in his jaws dragging him away from me as he gave out a small yelp. The other two dogs immediately joined in the fray, ripping and tearing at him. I immediately dropped on top of the dogs, screaming and punching at them in an attempt to break their hold.

When the dogs were finally dragged away Buzz was left lifeless on the ground ripped open from chin to his chest, skin and flesh from his neck missing. I was unashamedly sitting on the path sobbing in anguish having let my mate down and not knowing how I was going to break the news to Maree.

Alan and his daughter Emily who witnessed the attack and also tried to break up the fray stayed to comfort me as did many others who had come across the aftermath. Alan then called the police who arrived a short time later and took statements. It was revealed at this time that the boys walking the dogs were not the owners, but “dog-walkers”.

I wonder what would have happened if our 10 year old granddaughter (who grew up with Buzz) had been taking him for a walk. Not only could she have been

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