Council to act over Warrawong dog attack

Some of the ranger's injuries, sustained during the attack.
Some of the ranger's injuries, sustained during the attack.

A dog responsible for a bloody attack on a Wollongong council ranger last week came from the same Warrawong address as a bull mastiff that terrorised the neighbourhood before it was declared dangerous and euthanised almost two years ago.

Wollongong City Council is ‘‘considering its legal options’’ over the attack on its employee.

The incident resulted in serious wounds to the man’s stomach, leg and arm.

The dog involved was a rottweiler-bull terrier cross breed, and its owner is likely to be fined. The animal itself is also now able to be declared dangerous – a status that brings with it strict fencing and containment requirements. 

But some in the street are questioning why it took a gruesome event for authorities to act when there had been repeated complaints about the dog's behaviour, including an attack involving a visitor to its owner's Lee Street home.

A resident of the street, who did not want to be named, told the Mercury the visitor required more than 40 stitches after he was bitten by the animal.

The dog and others living in the house frequently escaped and there had been several "near attacks" on the street, the man said.

"I once had to call my father to come and pick me up just five houses down the road," the man said.

"I know 10 neighbours here that have rung up police, Wollongong City Council, the Department of Housing.

"The cops have been here a few times. They say 'we can't do something until someone else is bitten'."

The man said he kept a machete behind his front door in preparation for the dog's next escape, and said he had told neighbours they were free to jump on his family's car - parked on the street - if they came under attack and needed refuge.

Lake Illawarra police referred the Mercury's inquiries to Wollongong City Council.

Council's spokesman said two earlier attacks by the dog were reported in April 2010 and May 2011, but nothing was done because the incidents occurred on the property of the dog's owner.

"Due to exceptions in the Companion Animal Act, council was unable to take the appropriate action.

"Council acts on all complaints about dogs."

The spokesman said council could take action over the attack on its ranger even though it occurred on the dog owner's property because there were provisions in the act for rangers acting in the course of duty.

Council rangers were responding to a complaint about dogs roaming free on Lee Street on Friday when one was attacked.

A trainee nurse nearby rushed to administer first aid. She later told the near-neighbour the bite to the ranger's arm had penetrated "down to the bone".

In April 2011 the Mercury reported there had been four attacks associated with dogs in the street in the previous five months.

Then, blame was cast on the bull mastiff-cross Hercules, which was later euthanised.