Friends, colleagues pay tribute to Southern River dog attack victim Sue Lopicich

Sue Lopicich. Picture: Facebook.
Sue Lopicich. Picture: Facebook.

MORE: Dog attack: bull mastiff cross responsible for Southern River woman’s death put down

DESPERATELY shocked friends and colleagues have paid tribute to dog attack victim Sue Lopicich.

Ms Lopicich had been a child care educator at Willetton Child Care Association for the past seven years and was “much loved” by children, parents and staff.

She was mauled to death this week by her pet bull mastiff cross at home.

Association president Marie Quinn said Ms Lopicich, a mother of three adult children, was “just a wonderful lady, very caring towards the staff”.

“We are just all very upset,” she said.

“There are 17 staff here, we are all very close.

“Ms Lopicich left work on Monday happy with the day she had spent with the children and went home to do more caring – this time for her much loved dogs at the kennel she owned in Southern River.”

Mrs Quinn also revealed the horrifying circumstances in which Ms Lopicich was discovered.

She said a staff member had visited Ms Lopicich at her home on August 1 after she had failed to turn up at work that day.

On discovering Ms Lopicich in a serious condition, emergency services were called.

“We are doing all we can to provide support and counselling to the staff who are all deeply affected by this sudden tragedy,” she said.

“We are waiting on advice from the family about the timing of Sue’s funeral and it is likely that the centre will close to allow for the staff to attend,” said Ms Quinn.

The centre’s acting director Jacqui Smith, a friend of Ms Lopicich, said children, parents and staff at the centre heard about Ms Lopicich’s shocking death on Thursday.

“We are all upset and sad. She was a lovely person and the children just flocked around her when she was here,” said Ms Smith.

She said reports on social media critical of Ms Lopicich housing dangerous dogs were upsetting.

Ms Smith said her friend arranged for dog behaviourists to visit her home and try to change problematic behaviours as many of the animals rescued had been abused at the hands of former owners.

“She did everything right and in her power to get those animals a new home,” she said.

“Sometimes those animals were so damaged that she kept them.”

A long-time friend of Ms Lopicich, Sheryl Bodger, said their families’ friendship went back 50 years.

Mrs Bodger, a cook at the centre, said Ms Lopicich grew up in Leeming and she in Mount Pleasant – with their families becoming friends through tennis.

She said her friend had always wanted to open a dog kennel and just over three years ago had established Barko’s Boarding Kennel.

“That was her passion. Her dream always was to own a kennel for dogs,” Mrs Bodger said.

“She was absolutely passionate about animals. She took in rescue dogs and she also took in dogs when people were on holidays.

“Everything would be for the dogs. Her needs would play second fiddle to caring for her animals.”

She said her friend was survived by three daughters – Tegan, Courtney and Jenna.

City of Canning Deputy Mayor Lindsay Holland remembers Ms Lopicich from when he was centre president for seven years.

He recalled that she had been popular with children and staff.

“She was a much loved person at the centre. She enjoyed her work immensely and will be really missed. It is a very tragic event,” he said.

The bull mastiff cross responsible for the attack on Ms Lopicich, was reportedly aggressive when rangers visited the scene.

The City of Gosnells confirmed today that the dog had been put down.