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Dog owner tells of park attack on her pet by fearsome Japanese Akita

Susan with 12-year-old Billy, bearing the scars of the attack on his shoulder and haunches Susan with 12-year-old Billy, bearing the scars of the attack on his shoulder and haunches
By David Whelan

A Belfast woman whose pet dog was savagely attacked by a fearsome Japanese Akita in Alexandra Park has issued a warning to other dog owners and to parents of young children.

Susan O’Neill (74) only decided to take her 12-year-old Jack Russell, Billy, and her daughter’s Lhasa Apso to Alexandra Park after hearing reports that a number of dogs had been attacked in the nearby Waterworks in recent weeks.

The Bennett Drive resident said she had hoped the open-plan layout of Alexandra Park would provide better security for dog walkers. But the Japanese Akita, which was off its lead, emerged from out of sight at the river and launched a ferocious attack on the elderly little terrier.

Susan said both she and the Akita’s male owner attempted to pull the attacking dog off the helpless Jack Russell, but it was too large and powerful. When the Akita eventually broke off the attack, the owner made off without leaving any personal details.

Billy suffered severe bite wounds and was treated at a local veterinary practice. Susan, meanwhile, was left distraught by the attack, but she says things could have been much worse – on the same day news broke that a three-week-old baby had been killed in England after being attacked by a pet dog.

The Japanese Akita is a notoriously aggressive animal, originally bred for hunting large game. In the massively popular dog fighting industry in Asia and Europe during the 19th and early 20th centuries, it became prized for its aggression and strength.

“Our experience was the latest involving dogs being let loose in park areas where there are children playing and other small dogs,” said Susan.

“Those things are trained fighting dogs and I can’t understand what it’s doing in a park and off its lead. It severely injured Billy and if it had got a hold of my daughter’s dog I have no doubt it would be dead.”

Susan said that she went to the local police station but was told it was a matter for the dog warden, to whom she has since given a description of the dog and owner.

“It’s worrying that coming into the nicer weather a lot of young children and dog walkers are going to be in the parks more often and I think more needs to be done to ensure that it’s safe for them.”

A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: “In line with our park by-laws, signage in the park does state that dogs must be kept on leads. Whilst staff can’t be in all places at all times, we do try to ensure, insofar as possible, that park users do abide by this.”

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