Editor’s Desk: Dog attack in Mount Tarcoola reminds us all of need for responsible pet ownership

Headshot of Kate Campbell
Kate CampbellGeraldton Guardian
Dom the Papastzu who was killed in a dog attack.
Camera IconDom the Papastzu who was killed in a dog attack. Credit: Supplied

Four times a week. That’s how many times on average the City of Greater Geraldton receives a report of a dog attack on a person or another animal.

It’s a confronting statistic when you think about it. We live in a dog-loving community where at times you see more people out and about with a dog than without.

Today we bring you the heartbreaking story of Dom the Papastzu puppy who had just ventured out of his home on Glenview Road in Mount Tarcoola on Saturday morning. Family friend Reg Thomson, known as “Pop”, was taking him for a walk, as he often does, when two large cross-breed dogs set upon them.

Mr Thomson’s arms, hand and legs were mauled as he clutched Dom to his chest. But Dom stood no chance against the two bigger dogs.

This awful incident has left multiple families devastated, and what adds insult to injury is that it shouldn’t have happened. It was entirely preventable.

I only live a few streets away from where this happened, so when I heard about the details, chills went up and down my spine. When I walk my dog Alfie, the prospect of an attack and what I would do is unfortunately always in the back of my mind.

Whenever an unleashed dog approaches us, my body tenses a bit and I grip Alfie’s lead a bit tighter. My dog is the type of dog that just loves other dogs, big or small, the best thing about walking for him is not the exercise or the fresh air, but meeting other canines along the way.

There’s a small park near where I live that I don’t like taking Alfie to anymore, just because of past experiences of roaming dogs and not many other people being around. I tend to gravitate towards busier places now for walks, rather than just around the neighbourhood, as I feel there’s a little bit more safety in numbers.

My heart goes out to Dom’s owner Laurina and his brave protector Mr Thomson, who needed surgery for his wounds. It’s important to stress that City rangers are still investigating the incident. The City would not confirm, but witnesses say rangers took one dog with them, while the other one ran away and was reportedly hit by a car.

But Dom and Pop’s case is far from being in isolation. In 2021 and 2022, there were 392 reported dog attacks. It’s a number that should alarm all of us.

But the solution comes down to three words: responsible pet ownership. If you don’t ensure your dog is restrained or well-trained in public, then you don’t deserve to have a dog. If you let your dog roam freely, or have the ability to escape, knowing it could become aggressive with other dogs and people, then you deserve to have the full weight of the law thrown at you.

Dogs are one of the best things in life. They deserve the best owners possible looking after them, and ensuring they are well-adjusted and behaved. It’s a responsibility, not a right.

Because everyone should be able to take their dogs for a walk without the fear — or the reality — of being viciously attacked.

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