A MURRURUNDI pensioner who lost two prized sheep to dog attacks on Australia Day says killer dogs have taken more than 50 animals, mostly sheep, in the area since late last year and that town dogs, rather than wild dogs, are mostly to blame.
Russell Griffiths, a retired horse photographer who lives in Murrurundi township, says he has collected “victim statements” from 37 Murrurundi residents about their recent losses.
He plans to address this evening’s Upper Hunter Shire Council meeting about the situation, and says a community meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 28, with the council, police and the RSPCA attending.
Although the Upper Hunter, like much of rural Australia, has experienced problems with dog attacks on stock, they are generally reported as wild dogs. Farmers were relieved in May when a black dog that had killed “countless” sheep between Murrurundi and Wallabadah was caught.
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But Mr Griffiths says Murrurundi has a big problem with town dogs forming roaming packs at night and he says the existing laws are not strong enough to deal with the situation.
He said the two dogs that took his sheep in January belonged to someone nearby. He said one was put down but the other was not.
He said the dogs had burrowed under his fence to get to the sheep at about 7am on Australia Day. He was alerted by neighbours, who photographed the attack.
“These attacks have to end,” Mr Griffiths said.
The dog problem was confirmed by Upper Hunter councillor Josh Brown, who said the drought was also attracting “gobsmacking” number of wild deer into the town. The deer in turn were attracting dogs.
Mr Griffiths said the problem lay with specially bred hunting dogs, mainly bull mastiffs, pit-bulls and staffordshire terriers.
He said the official numbers of attacks were greatly under-stated because people were often afraid to report them for fear of retaliation.
“The government won’t recognise there’s a problem,” Mr Griffiths said.
But Upper Hunter state MP Michael Johnsen disputed this, saying “no-one wants to sweep it under the carpet”.
Mr Johnsen said people needed to take responsibility for restraining their pets.