A young woman collapsed screaming on the beach at Shellharbour this week as she watched her pet Maltese terrier savagely killed by another dog.
Jessica Wagner, 21, was walking her family’s three dogs, including 12-year-old Teddy, on leads at Shellharbour South Beach on Tuesday evening.
She saw a family - a mother, father and a daughter aged about seven or eight - coming towards her from the area near the caravan park, with a dog on a lead.
The dog, which Ms Wagner said was a pitbull-type breed, started running towards her from about 50 metres away with the lead still attached.
‘‘It looked friendly and was sniffing around our dogs, but it took a turn and just grabbed Teddy,’’ she said.
‘‘It was horrible, I could hear Teddy squealing, it had his whole body in its mouth.
‘‘I was trying to get the dog off but it had such a lock on it.
‘‘The other family ran up, but the mum and dad stood back.
‘‘Their little girl tried to help, she was kicking at her dog to let go but her parents told her to ‘get away, get away’.
‘‘I threw the leads of my other two dogs to her but she ran away.
‘‘In the end their dog just ran off with our dog in its mouth like a rabbit. By then I was just on the ground distraught.
‘‘What do I do? Do I try and stop it or let him kill Teddy... he was beyond repair anyway.’’
Nearby, Shell Cove man Brett Rogers was in a car park preparing to go for a run when he heard screaming and ran to the scene.
‘‘I heard this commotion and saw these people running around and Jessica crouched over in tears,’’ Mr Rogers said.
‘‘I asked these people what had happened and they said ‘our dog attacked her dog’... the mother said the dog pulled the lead out of her hands.’’
The Good Samaritan asked the family to wait while he went looking for the Maltese terrier.
‘‘I found it dead on the sand and I went and told Jessica who was bawling her eyes out.
‘‘We turned around and the family had gone.’’
Ms Wagner said it was hard to understand that the people would just leave.
‘‘I am such a fair person, I can’t comprehend why they would just leave,’’ she said.
‘‘I remember the little girl was about seven or eight, we asked around but no-one knows who they were.
‘‘I am the biggest animal lover of all, but why would you have an aggressive dog like that especially with children?
‘‘These people just didn’t care.’’
Mr Rogers said he believed there was a problem with dogs in the vicinity of Shellharbour South Beach and he had seen a lot of dog fights in the area.
Ms Wagner’s mother Cathy said she had witnessed many dog owners in the area not taking responsibility.
‘‘My attitude is if you know your dog is going to be aggressive put it on the lead and avoid other dogs in the area,’’ she said.
She said there should be stronger controls for dangerous breeds and greater responsibility from owners.
The Wagners reported the incident to Lake Illawarra police and Shellharbour City Council.
A council spokeswoman said the council would work with police to investigate the incident and council rangers were patrolling the beach areas.
Any witnesses to the attack, or anyone who may know of the dog in question, are asked to contact Lake Illawarra Police on 4232 5599, Shellharbour council on 4221 6111 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.