A dog attacked a swamp wallaby yesterday (Tuesday, 3 May) at South Golden Beach (SGB) seriously distressing witnesses, one of whom attempted to get the dog off the wallaby.
During the attack the wallaby’s joey fell from its pouch which was rescued by people at the scene and WIRES was called to take care of the orphaned joey. The mother swamp wallaby got away but has not been located. [See note on wallaby deaths at end of article]
A local, who asked not to be named, who attempted to rescue the wallaby said that the dog owners showed little care about the fact that their off the lead dog was attacking a wallaby and told him that ‘they could do what they wanted on a dog beach and I was to “get f*d”.’ The owners said they lived nearby.
The dog is described as being a large black dog with white markings and was accompanied by a man and woman and their two teenage children.
‘80 per cent of dog owners are responsible,’ he said. ‘It’s the 20 per cent who either refuse or are unable to train their dogs that cause the problem for everyone else.’
‘If people will not train their dogs then they should not own them. They put at risk all of the responsible owners’ access to dog beach areas. This is the third incident I have personally reported involving dogs – one led to the offending dog being put down, the other after a person was hospitalised for two days requiring surgery after a savage dog attack. And now this one involving the mauling of a defenseless wallaby.
Long history of supporting native wildlife
Following the incident, the South Golden Beach Community Association Facebook group took the chance to explain the history of the area and the effort locals have put into fighting to retain green spaces, wildlife corridors and reserves from a council and developers keen to build on all available space.
‘It took years, and many, many hours. In fact it became a full-time job for many [people] lobbying councillors and being on committees, speaking in council etc.’
They have also reminded everyone that dogs must be on leads from your home to the end of the dog-walking path at the dog walking beach.
‘If your dog rushes anything it can be classified a dangerous dog and it will have to do specialised training, be assessed, wear a muzzle when walked, be housed in a confined space etc.’
Joey has ‘fighting chance’
The joey was collected by WIRES Northern Rivers (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) yesterday and have reported that ‘The little swamp wallaby, named Beach, did well overnight. He has been assessed as viable and has a fighting chance.’
The joey is now in the care of an experienced wildlife carer near Lismore.
The incident has now been reported to the Byron Shire Council rangers.
Mother most likely died or dying
Wallabies will often die of myopathy following a dog attack.
‘Myopathy in Macropods (being wallabies, pademelons and kangaroos) happens when the animal is under extreme stress, as is the case when it is being attacked or chased by a dog,’ says WIRES.
‘The animal does not have to be injured directly to develop rhabdomyolysis, which is a disintegration of the muscle fibres. From within 24 hours up to a few weeks after the incident, the wallaby will show stiffness and paralysis mainly in the hindquarters, progressing to complete paralysis, it will also salivate excessively, death will occur within 2-14 days after the stressful incident.’