Dog owners warned of common mistake after three iconic animals attacked

A koala, a kangaroo and a wombat walked into a paddock. The line has all the hallmarks of a classic joke, but what happened next was anything but funny.

All three animals were attacked by domestic dogs in a small town over the past two weeks. Unfortunately, the excuse many pet owners give after such attacks is often the same.

“I never thought my dog ​​would do something like that,” is something wildlife rescuer Gayle Chappell is often told when she arrives on a property after an attack to pick up the pieces and clean the wounds.

“That’s what they always think … until their animal attacks. Because people don’t like to think that their dogs do these things,” she said.

Chappel estimates that in the wider region where she runs her Hepburn Wildlife Shelter in central Victoria, there is one dog attack on native animals every day.

Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and Yandoit are all popular holiday resorts just 90 minutes from Melbourne and city dwellers holidaying in the area or permanently moving there often enjoy letting their dogs run free in the open paddocks.

But a normally calm dog accustomed to city life can quickly change his personality and become a killer if he goes through two simple changes:

Even when dogs are caught attacking animals by their owners, they are often unaware of the extent of the damage.

“The most damage occurs under the skin. Dogs squeeze and shake. They tear muscle tissue that you can’t see,” Chappell said.

“And if we don’t catch the animal immediately, clean the wounds and give it antibiotics, infections will occur. And in the summer the maggots get in and it’s just horrible and there’s nothing we can do.

“I have seen 80 kg kangaroos attacked in the neck. Often this happens weeks later. They are in so much pain and we often cannot save them.”

Close-up of the wounds of a wombat at the Hepburn Wildlife Shelter.Close-up of the wounds of a wombat at the Hepburn Wildlife Shelter.

The wombat’s wounds were barely visible under its thick fur. Source: Hepburn Wildlife Shelter

The three dog attack victims Chappell recently took into her care experienced different tragedies. The koala, which she describes as “beautiful” and “in top form,” initially seemed to survive.

“There weren’t many penetrating wounds or broken bones, but there was a lot of tissue damage,” she said.

“We decided to try him, but the next morning it became clear that we could not relieve his pain, so we decided to put him down.”

Chappell’s biggest concern for the wombat right now is a possible infection. If he does recover, the process could take months.

The prognosis for the kangaroo is better. “He surprised us all. And we are confident that he will make it. But you never know exactly what long-term damage has occurred,” said Chappell.

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