Singapore

It needed eight people to pull dogs off

Jack russell terrier dies after attack by 2 mongrels

It did not deserve to die this way.

That is how Madam Gloria Koh, 56, and her family feel about their jack russell terrier's death.

Ranee, their beloved pet of 13 years, died last Sunday.

Madam Koh, a company director, and her family believe that it was a dog attack on April 7 that killed Ranee.

That evening, their domestic helper Jothilakshmi Mohan Kumar, 41, took Ranee on a daily walk in the neighbourhood.

Known as Jothi to her employers, the Indian national was near the junction of Dunbar Walk and Greenfield Drive when she spotted three big dogs about 160m away, at the other end of Dunbar Walk.

The dogs, about the size of golden retrievers, were of mixed breed, she recalled. They all wore collars, an indication that they were pets.

Seeing that the dogs were not leashed and coupled with her fear of big dogs, Ms Jothi hurried away from the mongrels and walked in the opposite direction.

At that moment, two bicycles whizzed past her.

She then turned back to look at Ranee and what she saw horrified her: the jack russell terrier, which was leashed, was in the jaws of two of the three mongrels she had seen just a few minutes earlier.

"I thought we would be safe because we were so far away. I did not hear the dogs at all. Within one second, everything happened," Ms Jothi told The New Paper on Wednesday.

"My mind went blank from shock. My hands were shaking. I don't know how it could have happened."

Ms Jothi suspects that the large dogs had been chasing after the cyclists who had zoomed past her just before Ranee became their target.

Certified dog trainers told TNP that some dogs could be agitated by moving objects, like cyclists.

Construction workers who witnessed the incident said they were shocked.

The brief attack happened right next to a construction site at Dunbar Walk and the workers had been waiting for a lorry to take them back to their dormitories.

One of the workers, who wanted to be known as Alomgir, said: "I saw two big dogs running very fast towards the small dog before they bit it."

The Bangladeshi, who is in his 30s, said that he turned away the moment he saw blood dripping from the mouth of one of the big dogs.

STRUGGLE

It took five construction workers and three residents in the neighbourhood to free Ranee from the attacking dogs.

The construction workers tried to pull Ranee out of the mongrels' jaws, while the residents tried to put the large dogs on leashes.

One of the five construction workers, Mr Md Wazid Miah, said it was about five minutes before the dogs were separated from each other.

"There was no barking. After the dogs were separated, we asked the lady to go into the construction site with her dog and locked the door.

"We were all quite scared. The two big dogs looked like they were crazy," Mr Wazid, 35, said in halting English.

Ms Jothi and the jack russell terrier continued hiding until the mongrels were put on leashes and taken to a park nearby.

Madam Koh and her husband were both not at home when the incident happened.

The mongrels' owner, who was notified about the incident by the three residents who had helped, offered to take Ranee to a vet nearby.

TNP understands that the mongrels had escaped due to a faulty house gate.

The attacks left Ranee with gashes on both sides of its body. A trip to the vet revealed puncture wounds on its intestines.

Ranee went through a five-hour operation that night.

"It had this big operation and two days later, I saw that its tummy was distended.

"She wasn't really responsive," said Madam Koh's husband, a doctor who declined to be named.

Five days after the attack, Ranee died.

Madam Koh said her two sons and one daughter, who are all studying overseas, were distraught to learn of their pet's death.

Her daughter, 19, has never cried so hard, she said.

Although Madam Koh and her husband are still waiting for the results of Ranee's necropsy, they are convinced that their beloved pet died due to the attack.

"It's obviously from the injury. Otherwise, she's very active for her age," said Madam Koh's husband.

"She's such a useful, curious dog. She wouldn't allow even one mouse to come in from the neighbouring houses."

Showing TNP an X-ray film of Ranee's body, he pointed to the swollen area beside the spine.

"This part is swollen because its intestines had spilled out of the body," he said.

"The injuries were so severe that such big portions of the intestines were cut and sewn back, pushed back (into the rib cage), stitched up and so on.

"Sometimes, dogs are not able to stand the stresses of such a big operation. Ranee also had multiple organ failure and was put on steroids."

Ms Jothi has walked Ranee every day for the past seven years, but said that the day of the incident was the first time she had seen the mongrels.

She made a police report on April 8, a day after the incident, in case there were repeat attacks.

A police spokesman confirmed that a report was made. TNP understands that the case is now with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

BEYOND COST

Madam Koh said the mongrels' owner offered to pay for all the expenses incurred, but she felt that this incident has gone beyond the issue of cost.

It also concerns the safety of the neighbourhood, she said.

"Ranee was very dear to us. What would happen if it had been a baby or the elderly? They may not be able to survive the bite," she said.

Her husband added: "It's scary for people, too.

"If I were a jogger, I would be scared. Nobody goes around carrying a stick for defence.

"I know people are very attached to their pets, but certain pets are dangerous. They must be put down or there are other ways to limit their aggression, like training."

The mongrels' owner, when contacted, did not wish to comment.

Ranee was very dear to us. What would happen if it had been a baby or the elderly? They may not be able to survive the bite.

- Madam Gloria Koh


HOW TO DEAL WITH DOGS

WHEN A DOG GROWLS

Back away as calmly and quickly as possible.

A dog’s growl is its lowest intensity of warning.

Ignore it and the dog may launch into a snarl, lunge, snap or bite.

WHEN A DOG SNARLS AND MOVES TOWARDS YOU

Stay calm, avoid eye contact — that is seen as a threat — and back off as far as you can. you can also get behind something for protection and call for help.

If you are afraid of dogs, you can also carry an umbrella that you can open suddenly. that distraction will be enough for you to put some distance between you and the dog.

IN A DIRE SITUATION

Protect yourself the best way you can.

Cover your head, face and neck, and use whatever is available to you to get out of the situation.

DOG OWNER: IT COULD BE DUE TO BROKEN GATE

It is not clear how the three large mixed-breed dogs escaped from their owner's house, but Madam Gloria Koh, 56, and her husband were told by the owner that it could be due to the broken gate.

Madam Koh's husband, who declined to be named, added that the owner had called him and sounded "rather apologetic" about what happened.

When The New Paper approached the owner at her house in Frankel Avenue last Wednesday, she declined comment.

TNP understands that her dogs have been chained up at home.

In 2010, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority introduced new rules that require all newly-licensed Part 1 and 2 scheduled dogs to undergo obedience training.

The dogs included in the list are big and powerful, and can cause serious injuries through their bites. 
The owner of newly-licensed dogs in this category must also take up an insurance policy for at least $100,000 coverage against injury to persons and damage to property, along with a banker's guarantee of $2,000.

These changes came after an incident in 2007 in which five rottweilers attacked a jack russell terrier, causing serious injuries. 
The terrier's owner, who tried to protect his pet, fell and hurt himself.

The owner of the rottweilers was fined $6,000 for letting her dogs out of her house unleashed and unmuzzled.

Under the Animals and Birds (Dog Licensing and Control) Rules, all dogs must be leashed in public. Dog owners who fail to leash their dogs in public maybe fined up to $5,000.

Owners of dogs belonging to breeds listed in the Second Schedule, such as the bull terrier and german shepherd, should also ensure that their dogs are securely muzzled in public. Dog owners who fail to muzzle their dogs in public may be fined up to $5,000.

Training, vigilance crucial

One of the most common causes of canine aggression is actually the fear of potential stressors.

This is because the dog has not been taught how to cope with these things that make it uncomfortable, said Dr Kang Nee, an animal behaviourist and certified dog trainer.

In a dog's environment, there are many potential stressors that trigger a reaction.

It could be a moving object, someone running, a loud noise or someone trying to pet its head, said Dr Kang, who holds a doctorate in zoology.

"Each time a dog encounters a trigger and if it has not learnt that the trigger is safe or associated with something good, its stress levels go up," she said.

"Stress causes a dog to prepare for flight or fight, and some dogs will run away while others will go forwards. It depends on the individual."

When the stress levels stack up and exceeds the dog's tolerance, and nothing is done to remove the dog or the trigger, the dog may escalate into a bite, she added.

STRESSOR

Professional dog trainer Sunny Chongsaid that even something as subtle as body language can become a stressor for certain dogs.

The man behind Sunny Chong Dog Training School stressed the importance of training for all dogs, be they pedigree dogs or mongrels.

Without training, these pets are as good as wild dogs, he said.

"Wild dogs have no discipline, don't know right from wrong and react as they please," he said.

Dr Kang said that a suitable behaviour-modification programme combining training with management can help teach dogs cope with their triggers.

But she emphasised the need for owners to be vigilant, too.

This means that an owner should try to recognise the pet's sequence of actions in "predatory behaviour" - target, stalk, dash, grab, bite, shake, kill.

And not all dogs go through the whole sequence, Dr Kang said.

The key is to recognise the sequence and interrupt it early enough so the dog's attention can be redirected to something else.

SingaporeanimalsUncategorisedattackbitemauling