THE owner of a dog who lost her leg in a vicious attack says he ‘still hears the screams’ his dog made on the night of the incident.
The comments came at the resolution of a long-winded court case that ended yesterday after almost two years of legal tussles.
Cooloongup pensioner Tony Etcell said the attack, which took place on February 3, 2017, had been a traumatic experience and had taken a toll on many levels.
Mr Etcell was woken at 3am that night by the screams of his dog Satine, a jack russell terrier.
When he went outside, he found Satine in the jaws of Nugget, a brindle-coloured bull terrier owned by neighbour Ward Glen Rohan.
The court heard that Mr Etcell was forced to stab the dog to get him to release Satine, whose leg was ripped off in the attack.
Later, when Mr Etcell returned to the backyard to collect Satine’s leg, he was confronted with another dog called Gypsy, a white bull terrier owned by Mr Rohan’s mother, Stephanie Joanne McGlew.
The court head that Gypsy behaved aggressively towards Mr Etcell, snarling at him and chasing him back into his house.
The court case finally concluded in the Perth Magistrates Court yesterday, with Magistrate Dianne Scadden ruling the dogs should not be put down.
Mr Etcell told the Weekend Courier he had faced thousands of dollars in vet bills and a drawn-out court case that had only compounded his trauma.
He said he was terrified that if the dogs were released from the City of Rockingham, where they had been impounded since 2017, they would seek out and “finish off” his dog.
“I still hear her screaming,” he said.
“She is very scared of other dogs and scared to go in the backyard.
“When the sun goes down she starts shaking.”
He said little effort had been made by his neighbours to pay the vet bills, which now total almost $3000, or take responsibility for their dogs.
“They first offered $10 a fortnight which I found insulting,” he said.
“It was their dogs that broke through the fence and attacked my dog.”
In court yesterday, Ms Scadden noted the length of time the case had taken to go through the justice system.
Both Mr Rohan and Ms McGlew had previously pleaded guilty to having control of a dog that attacked or chased a person or animal and caused injury, and failure to register a dog with the local authority.
However, the pair appealed the decision to put the dogs down.
Dog behavioural experts testified in court yesterday that there were other alternatives to euthanasia to prevent the two dogs from being violent and aggressive in future.
Ms Scadden said in her judgement that while the owners had “little appreciation or sense of what is required to be responsible pet owners”, she would allow the dogs to return home.
“There is a high likelihood of reoccurrence without intervention,” she said.
“(The owners) are naive and lack understanding as responsible dog owners – the internet is no substitute for good on the ground training.”
She ordered that the dogs only be released after a proper inspection by City of Rockingham rangers to ensure the property was secure and any required work was to be completed before release.
She also ordered that both dogs undergo retraining by approved behavioural specialists that were members of the Australian New Zealand College of Veterinarian Scientists.
The training must occur within four weeks from the court order and was to be paid for by the owners.
Ms McGlew and Mr Rohan have been contacted for comment.