Dogs Attacking Wildlife

In March WIRES Mid-South Coast had a callout for a juvenile kangaroo that had been attacked by a greyhound in Kioloa. It was dead by the time a rescuer arrived. The greyhound had accidentally slipped its leash.

Unfortunately many greyhounds have been trained to chase and attack animals, commonly known in the industry as “blooding". Until July 2019, all pet greyhounds in NSW were legally required to wear a muzzle in public unless they had completed an approved retraining program. This was changed as part of the government’s “commitment to improving living standards and rehoming rates for greyhounds”.

Now registered pet greyhounds do not have to wear a muzzle unless they are in an off-leash area and have not done the approved training. However, owners may choose to muzzle their dogs and one would hope they would do it in wildlife areas.

This badly-wounded goanna had to be put down after a dog attack. Photo: Kay Mallitt.

Greyhounds are not the only dogs that attack wildlife. A more recent callout was for a brushtail possum in Moruya that had to be euthanised because of horrific injuries caused by a dog attack. Animals that are subject to dog attacks may also die of shock or infection from the injuries inflicted that may not look too bad at first sight, so it is important to call WIRES on 1300 094 737 or get them to a vet as soon as possible.

We are all aware of the problem cats can pose to birds and small animals but pet dogs can also pose a threat to wildlife. A Tasmanian study and a Victorian study both found that in fact dogs caused more wildlife injuries and deaths than cats and were second only to motor vehicles in the carnage they caused. This is why it is important that owners keep their dogs on leashes when they are away from home.

The penalty for any dog owner in NSW if their dog "rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal” is up to $10,000. If that attack is "as a result of a reckless act or omission by the dog’s owner or another person in charge of the dog at the time of the attack” The penalty is up to $22,000 and/or up to 2 years in prison.

Ref: Removal of the muzzling requirement for pet greyhounds - FAQ’s, Office of Local Government, accessed 14 May 2021; Dog Attack Reporting, Office of Local Government, accessed 14 May 2021.