Dog owners in the rural area are considering legal action to force Litchfield Council to strengthen bylaws to help protect people and animals from dangerous wild dog attacks.
A recent spate of attacks has been documented in online forums from distressed residents, including a dog owner who survived a harrowing attack by a pack of hunting dogs in Howard Springs last week.
Yvette Goldberg said residents in the rural area have been terrified to walk anywhere as they might get attacked by ferocious dogs at any time.
Ms Goldberg and other residents with the same distressing experience with dangerous dogs have jointly criticised the Litchfield Council for its lack of bylaws in its animal management plan.
She recounted the brutal experience of her dachshund, Pancake, being savagely attacked by three large hunting dogs in the backyard of their home in Bronzewing Avenue, Howard Springs at about 2:40pm last Wednesday.
She said she saw Pancake being savagely attacked with the hunting dogs flipping him like he was a rag doll across the road.
Ms Goldberg suggested that the problem is a lack of bylaws implemented by the Litchfield Council to address the animal attacks.
“We pay council taxes for a reason,” she told ABC Radio.
“We don’t have any form of protection; for the community that’s terrifying, there’s no laws in the system.”
A resident from Bees Creek also voiced her horrific experience of seeing a pack of dingos attacking her dog. She said she has spoken to Litchfield Rangers and to a local councilor and found that there is no dedicated Wild Animal Control within the ranger system.
“They have three rangers, and the story is that they’re too busy to deal with this,” she also told the ABC.
“They hire a contractor. And the last time they had a contract with the dingo control was three years ago. I think with the scale of the problem that we have here, they really need to have a permanent yearly contract for dingo reduction.”
Litchfield Council Mayor Maree Bredhauer, meanwhile, asserted that council has “strong” bylaws, compliance, and enforcement policies on animal management – however was not able to elaborate on the details of the bylaws.
Ms Bredhauer said the roaming dangerous dogs in the Litchfield area right now are becoming worse, acknowledging Facebook posts about the matter. But she did not provide data from the council on wild dog sightings or attacks.
“We do need to encourage people to report all sightings and all wild dogs, and those dogs at large, the ones that are just roaming around,” she told ABC Radio Darwin yesterday.
“This ensures that our recording and data is there so that our office staff and rangers can be proactive and deal with things.”
She broadly discussed the council’s bylaws include the registration of dogs and that dogs must be contained and fenced on properties.
“Once they’re out roaming, then they become a dog at large, and will be dealt with as such,” she said.
“Dogs can be deemed as a dangerous dog, and then there are certain things that have to be put in place for that, that deeming of a dangerous dog, which can include euthanizing.”
But when asked what the penalties for non-compliance are, she couldn’t answer and admitted that she did not know.
Ms Bredhauer, who has served as Litchfield mayor for five and a half years, said the current wet weather could also be affecting feral animal numbers.
“They’re moving to high ground and so forth and roaming around a bit more coming out of the reserves,” she said. “This is not to shift responsibility, but feral animals on land that’s not under what council does, we need to work with those other agencies to put those things in place to make everyone safe.”