Media outlets around the world have picked up the story of the “pit bull attack” in Sydney’s Centennial Park, but not everyone agrees with the facts.
Footage taken on Saturday from the downtown park shows a dog that has gotten out of control launching itself on a horse.
The vision, which lasts 45 seconds, has been shared on news websites in New Zealand, India and the UK.
It shows the dog circling the horse as it kicks in an attempt to thwart the attack. The dog tries numerous times to grab the bottom of the horse before finally being dragged away.
The dog’s owners were reportedly asked for details but fled the dedicated horse racing track – a clearly signposted area where they are kept on a leash.
A spokeswoman for Centennial Parklands told news.com.au on Tuesday that the incident is under investigation and that park authorities have been in contact with the horse’s owner.
But she said the breed of the dog is still up for debate.
“The rangers have said emphatically, ‘We don’t know it’s a pit bull,'” she said.
The spokeswoman said one thing is certain: The responsibility for checking a dog in the park rests “squarely with the dog owner”.
“There are very clear rules about how people should manage their dogs throughout the park.
“It’s very, very clear about how to interact with your dog in the park. It’s a shared space.
‘You have cars, you have pedestrians, you have horses, you have dogs.
“Rangers carry the brochures and hand them out and there is no reason for people not to know how to handle their dogs.”
The area where the attack took place is a dedicated horse racing track and is separated from an off-leash area used by hundreds of dogs every day.
There is no fence between the two areas.
The Centennial Parklands spokeswoman told news.com.au that rangers can hand out fines to dog owners for violations of park rules.
The attack was filmed by Shannon Bishop, a resident who uses the park regularly. She told the Daily Mail that she saw the horse standing on its hind legs and thought “shit, what’s going on here?”.
“Then I saw the dog. I was absolutely shocked at how aggressive the dog was. I could see it trying to snap at the horse’s underbelly. It also snapped at the legs.”
In the footage you can hear her say, “F**king hell. Oh my God.”
A witness who posted the video to Facebook wrote: “A stray pit bull with two owners who could not control him because he intended to attack the horse.
“After the incident, the two owners walked away without apology or details and got into a car,” she wrote.
“All dogs must be on a leash and owners must be responsible when their dog attacks others.”
The images received more than 300 reactions from locals, shocked that the aggressive dog had been off leash, and more so that no one was hurt by him or the horse.
“So many things that could have gone wrong there – helpers could have been kicked in the head trying to grab the dog. It made me sick to see that,” one person wrote.
“I’m sick of people who don’t have their dogs on a lead and who have no control over them,” wrote another. “That poor horse, I hope he wasn’t bitten. I hope the owner of this dog gets a huge fine.”
Originally published as Outrage on stray dog owners who attacked horse in Sydney’s Centennial Park