WHEN Woodlands residents Gerry and Renata Downing walked their beloved four-legged friend around Jackadder Lake Reserve last month, the last thing they expected was to be attacked.
The couple, who walk their labrador Memphis every day, were left with bite wounds requiring plastic surgery to their hands, while Memphis was treated for bite wounds to her paw.
Mr Downing said he and his family had been left traumatised by the incident, which he believed was caused by a brindle bulldog, and while the reserve was an “off-leash” parkland, he urged dog owners to be more responsible.
“After our attack, the three of us were left there, shocked, traumatised, bleeding and in pain while the woman took her dog, put him in her car and drove away,” Mr Downing said.
“We love dogs but we feel that dogs should be on a leash around Lake Jackadder because it is a very small and congested park.
“Dogs on leash would allow all the people using that facility to enjoy their day or walk in peace without the fear of being hassled or annoyed trying to fend off a dog.”
Mr Downing added owners should ensure dogs that were not good at obeying commands or had experienced trauma in the past, should also be kept on a leash.
Earlier this year the City of Stirling carried out extensive community consultation to establish whether the reserve should become a ‘dog on-leash’ area.
Nearly 600 people completed the survey resulting in 82 per cent of respondents in favour of keeping the area an ‘off-leash’ area.
Mr Downing said he was aware of the survey but did not believe it was the “majority voice” of the community, nor a rule for every dog.
“Jackadder is an environmentally sensitive area, including wildlife, water and flora,” he said.
“Dogs should be on a leash in this area so they do not cause any damage to this environment.
“Many people are fearful of dogs. We have been fortunate to have a dog to love and this has changed us but we understand that many people are still uncomfortable with dogs.”
City of Stirling Community Safety acting manager Brett Spencer said the City was aware of the incident and supported the view of responsible ownership.
“The City fully supports Mr and Mrs Downing’s view in respect to responsible dog ownership and the City is working through its community engagement strategies and ranger services to educate and promote this to dog owners and the broader community,” he said.
“An investigation was commenced to compile all relevant information so the matter could be progressed when the owner of the offending dog was identified.
“All avenues, including social media, are being used in an attempt to identify the offending dog owner.”