Wary owner calls for muzzle use after vicious dog attack

MUZZLE UP: Elvis, a 14-week-old staghound-cross, and Cathy Southwell, who believes pet owners with large dogs should consider using muzzles. Picture: Les Smith
MUZZLE UP: Elvis, a 14-week-old staghound-cross, and Cathy Southwell, who believes pet owners with large dogs should consider using muzzles. Picture: Les Smith

A Wagga resident has called for large dog owners to consider using a muzzle in the wake of a vicious dog attack which left a family forced to watch their cat die in their arms. 

Council's manager of environment and city compliance Mark Gardiner revealed on Thursday there had been 29 dog attacks in Wagga in the past three months, with an average of 150 dog attacks per year, ranging from small bites to full scale attacks. 

Owner of a 14-week-old staghound-cross, Cathy Southwell, said she intends on using a soft muzzle on her dog, having previously used one on her great dane. 

“You never know exactly what is going to trigger an animal to behave in a certain way,” Ms Southwell said. 

“Someone looking at a dog and making them feel threatened could be enough and that someone could be a three-year-old child.” 

Ms Southwell said she “couldn’t live with herself” if her dog attacked a child, after her great dane uncharacteristically bit her partner. 

“We took our previous dog to trainers, dog school and had specialists working with her,” Ms Southwell said. 

“She was a beautiful dog but you just never know.” 

Dog trainer Brydie Charlesworth, who services the Wagga area, said muzzles were a good management technique for fixing dogs behaviour, but not as a stand alone treatment. 

“There is no possible way a dog can bite through a muzzle so it does keep the public safe,” Ms Charlesworth said. 

“It can be a great tool but must be used in conjunction with behaviour modification.” 

Ms Charlesworth said the use of muzzels was becoming more prominent among dog owners. 

“I’m seeing an increase in people being responsible and using muzzles,” Ms Charlesworth said. 

“I guess people are becoming aware of the damage dogs can do when they’re not trained appropriately.” 

Both Ms Southwell and Ms Charlesworth emphasised that using a muzzle on a dog was not cruel. 

“I think dog attacks in Wagga are getting worse with people letting their dogs roam,” Ms Southwell said. 

“People are getting bigger dogs that they can’t control and they need to understand not everyone likes dogs or feels comfortable with them.”