Death in the Park
(by Charmaine du Toit)
It is our hope that Bentley's story will be shared and passed on, so that we can educate one another and prevent another tragedy such as this - please share
It has happened yet again – a beloved family pet, little Bentley, the Yorki, was savagely mauled by two Rotties in a park in
Hurleyvale Edenvale on Tuesday evening. He has left behind a devastated family who loved him dearly who are very much in shock – his mom, Jenny; also saw this happening to her dog in front of her eyes.
The trauma to his mom, his brother Rascal and we are sure the owner of the Rotties is unspeakable. It happened so fast that we do not know who the owner is. We know that she does frequent the park often with her dogs and generally is very careful- saying away from other dogs and having her own under control.
You might say ‘oh just a case of an irresponsible owner letting their dogs run off lead’ – no, it was not like that. Jenny was out walking Bentley and Rascal in the early evening and both dogs were on leads. A distance away another owner was walking her two Rotti’s – also on lead.
The two dog owners greeted each other and Bentley gave a short bark. It seems that what occurred was that the lady with the Rotti’s had stopped to adjust leads or collars, we are not sure but one of the rotties sawand heard Bentley and pulled away from owner towards him. Either the owner let go of the other Rottie due to shock at what was occurring, or it got away from her. The end result was that Bentley was savagely mauled – multiple bites and dog and owner covered with blood. Bentley’s spine was totally severed and he could not be saved. Bentley was only three years old.
Tragedies happen so quickly and in an instant your beloved pet is no more or if your dog was the aggressor you are left with the knowledge of the damage your dog can do.
Owners are wracked with guilt and feel that there must have been something more that they could have done to prevent or intervene. The scene is replayed and revisited every time you close your eyes.
As behaviourists and trainers we encourage people to exercise their dogs but then senseless events like these make us question and re evaluate the safety of doing so.
What can owners do to prevent tragedies like this - it is not an isolated event. In fact on Tuesday alone the vet that assisted with Bentley had treated no less than three dog on dog attacks. The previous week a client had a terrible attack by a large dog on a lady walking her dog down the road and subsequent to Bentleys passing we have heard numerous stories of attacks - in the Hurleyvale park, in suburbs, in other parks. It seems that these attacks are just happening all the time.
My aim with this post to try and make sense of Bentleys passing and warn others to be careful- somehow something positive must come from this horrible incident.
In Bentley’s situation we can make the following assumptions:
The handler with the Rotties had been responsible in that she had reflective gear and usually the dogs did too, they were on leash and appeared to be under control.
The fact that she waited for later in the day to walk could be an indication that she was aware of the dogs being reactive and therefore tried to avoid dogs and people whilst giving her own dogs the exercise they deserved.
In short she was doing the right thing but was there a way in which she could have acted differently?
I absolutely believe so
- A lady with a small frame would have trouble holding even onto one large sized Rotti, never mind two, especially in the situation they wanted to attack another dog. That evening they were intent on killing. They went in silently and swiftly.
- We are assuming that the reason the first Rottie got away was that the handler was in the process of adjusting the leash or collar on the dog - Equipment should have been fitted properly in the home environment.
- Equipment should have been sufficient that dog could not get away from her such as a Halti and Martingale or similar.
- Professional help should have been undertaken to help with the aggression or packing behaviour of the dogif it had been evident beforehand.
- ANY reactive dog should ALWAYS wear a muzzle in public
- Reactive dogs should NOT be walked together; the chances of a pack attack are higher.
- There is a strong possibility that the dogs were intact and this could have contributed to the aggression.
The only way we can stop incidents like this is by taking responsibility for our dogs ourselves and not put other dogs and people at risk.
In parks where there are signs that dogs must be kept on lead, means that dogs MUST be kept on lead – not just some.
This particular park does not have such signs and there are many people that walk their dogs off leash and often it becomes a meeting place for dogs to play and socialize. This is lovely to see when things are going well but
When amount of times so called non-aggressive dogs off leash end up injuring or killing dogs on lead is a common occurrence.
Your dog may be fine off lead, but what about the dogs walking on lead? They may just have a responsible owner who can actually read and follows the law, or they could be reactive dogs or fearful dogs and the dog running happily off-lead towards your dog that is on lead, is enough to make your heart stop beating!
If you walk your dogs in public I appeal to you to be very careful.
- Keep something on you to defend yourself and your dogs - pepper spray, a stick, a taser(for the noise to act as a deterrent not to shock)
- Be hyper vigilant - look out for dogs approaching from every direction and do not allow them to approach your dog or your dog to approach them.
- Be aware that dogs behind fences that are kept as "guard dogs" are usually intact and highly territorial. Dogs don’t understand that a fence or a gate mark the end of their property.
- Dogs with high prey drive may see smaller dogs as exactly that - prey. In Bentley’s case it took on vigorous shake to break his 4kg body. Be extra careful with your smaller breeds and if you know your dog is aroused by smaller dogs - ensure that you keep them muzzled when out in public.
Our hearts are broken and we miss our boy terribly. Please educate all dog owners - together we can make a difference and Bentley's memory and Spirit will live on in our hearts forever. RIP our precious angel. Thank you for all the lessons, the love and joy you brought us.