Follow by Email

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dingoes in suburbia

Sometimes I marvel at the stupidity of some people.  A woman who lives in the inner Sydney suburb of Newtown, Desiree Hemberger, owns not one, but three purebred dingoes.  She's on the front page of today's Sydney Morning Herald singing their praises.  They are not savage animals, she says, but shy and huggable companions.  But it gets worse - sometimes she minds a little baby for a friend.

She's not breaking the law, just the law of stupidity.  It became legal to own a dingo as a pet in 1999 and 580 purebred and 500 cross-breeds were registered last year.  But ask any old bushie about dingoes and he will tell you that having a dingo as a pet is like having a loaded gun in the house, and that goes for cross breeds as well.

But thank goodness there is one lone voice of reason.  The President of the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society, Lucile Ellem, stated the bleeding obvious when she said the animals needed to roam "and should not be a pet sitting on someone's lounge."   Her society receives two calls a week from owners who said their dingoes were "getting out of control, climbing fences and killing the local cats and they want us to take them in."

This year authorities published guidelines for dingo owners, pointing out that most people who bought the animals "did not fully appreciate their hard-wired behaviours."  The guidelines also warned of destructive, aggressive, and escape behaviour and a limited ability to be trained or rehoused.

Some people think that dingoes will only attack babies and small children but it's not true.  Last year a 23 year old male German tourist on Fraser Island was hospitalized with serious injuries to head, legs and arms and a 14 year old girl at Kakadu woke to find a dingo dragging at her sleeping bag.  In 2011 a 3 year old girl was bitten at Fraser Island;  in 2009 a nurse on the Stuart Highway near the Devils Marbles was attacked and bitten on the hand;  in 2007 a 4 year old female on Fraser Island was severely bitten; in April 2001 Clinton Gage 9 was attacked and killed on Fraser Island by two dingoes; and last but not least, at Uluru camping area, Azaria Chamberlain, 2 months, was taken by a dingo in 1980.  These documented cases are the ones we know about but there must be countless others.

Meanwhile, trendsetter Ms Hemberger is deliriously happy to continue showing off her three dingoes, while those in the know just shake their heads and wonder why.