Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dog attack, an absolutely terrifying experience.

When I went to see my friend Tom Robinson on his cane farm, on a beautiful May day in 1999, I had never given a thought that it would turn into a bit of a “drama” with me finishing up in Hospital. I have known the Robinson family since the early 1960s and made countless visits there over the years. They always had three to four dogs that knew me and greeted me when I came. In the early 1970s I managed Dr. Westerway’s 92 hectare cane farm, which extended along the Captain Cook Highway Smithfield and down Yorkeys Knob Road, so we became neighbours of the Robinsons.

I have experienced many things in my varied life, some good and some bad, but being attacked by five dogs was by far my worst experience – something I would not wish on anyone.

I love dogs. We always had one or two German Sheppard dogs, and I was never afraid of dogs. This experience didn't change that.

However, on that fateful day
when I went to see Tom about something, I found the house locked, but I heard voices and other activities coming from the farm shed, so I proceeded to go there.  I called out, “Are you there Tom?” However, instead of getting a reply, a dog came from nowhere at me. I knew that in a case like this it is important not to show fear and stand your ground and yell at the dog and they normally retreat. This had worked for me on a few occasions in the past, but not this time.

The dog couldn't be intimidated and got stuck into me from the front and the other four dogs were on the side and behind attacking me viciously. I was totally surrounded by the dogs.

I knew that holding the bottom jaw of a dog stops him biting
you and it renders them powerless. So I grabbed the attack dog’s bottom jaw with my hand, but only for a short time.  I had to let go as I had only one hand to defend myself, and the other four dogs were still ripping into me. I kept walking backwards belting the dog with my bare fists, but they smelled blood and were in a frenzy, and there was no way to stop them.

Eventually I was able to hop onto a small tractor,
now I was on higher ground, and I grabbed a chair beside the tractor and used the four legs like a defending “fencing” action against the dogs.  With all the commotion - the yapping dogs, and what seemed to be an eternity - the dog owner finally came, grabbed the main attack dog and the attack stopped.

There was blood and pieces of flesh hanging from me everywhere.
I had countless deep tooth marks; to say that I was a mess would have been an understatement. The dog owner called the ambulance and I asked him to ring Karola to tell her what happened and for her to ask our neighbour to bring her here to pick up the car.

Karola arrived just before the ambulance left for Cairns – she was shocked and couldn’t believe what she saw. Karola was told by the ambulance man to go home as the hospital would ring her when I was ready to be picked up. I wanted to be taken to my private doctor, but they insisted on taking me to the Cairns Base Hospital.

I was dropped off there at 5 pm; blood was running through the blood saturated bandages from my arms and legs to the floor and into my shoes. When at 8 pm no doctor had seen me, I rang Karola and told her to come in and pick me up and take me to an after hour doctors surgery. I was still on the phone, when a doctor called me in, he must have overheard my conversation with Karola.

At about 7 pm our granddaughter, Dina, rang home and wanted to know if the prearranged meeting with me in Cairns in the morning still stood. Karola told her that she would doubt it as I had been attacked by dogs and was in hospital. So Dina rushed to the hospital and just arrived as the nurse called me in for a clean-up and dressing the wounds, and Dina came in with me. I was finally all bandaged up at 9.30 pm and Dina drove me home.

The following day, Dina rang the ambulance and asked if they reported the dog attack to the police, to which they replied: “No, we are not required to do that.” Yet, if a doctor sees an abused child he is required to report it to the police; a bit of a double standard here. Without telling me, Dina rang the Cairns Post and told them what had happened to me. Shortly after a Cairns Post journalist with camera came to see me. Once the Article with my picture laying in bed, under the heading “Horror Dog Attack” appeared in the Cairns Post, I was inundated with phone calls from far and wide. I remember a friend from the Atherton Tableland who said: “I always knew that you like to get your name into the Cairns Post, but I never thought that you would go to this length.” This article came also to the attention of the then Cairns City Council. See Cairns Post article below. (Click image to enlarge.)

The only thing that was wrong in that article was that the dog owner told the Cairns Post that it was a Labrador cross, when in fact it was a pit-bull cross.

I take this opportunity to wish my entire regular blog visitors in Australia and the world, a merry Christmas, a happy and healthy New Year, and peace in this world. - Werner

* * * * * 
Horror Dog Attack
Animals set to be put down
By Tracey Ferrier

A 68-year-old Yorkeys Knob man is nursing 30 puncture wounds and three bone-deep gashes after five dogs set upon him at a friend's cane farm.

Werner Schmidlin says he's lucky to have survived the terrifying attack, which left him bruised, bloodied and his clothes in shreds. The Cairns City Council has promised action after it was revealed the Yorkeys Knob farm is home to eight dogs - twice as many as regulations allow.

Farm worker Andrew Herrington - who owns six of the animals, including two puppies not involved in the attack - said two of his adult dogs would be destroyed.

He said one of the farm owner's two dogs also would be put down. Mr Schmidlin said he had just arrived at the friend's farm on Monday when the pack circled him and began to attack.

"A big dog just came straight for me and the other five joined in the frenzy," he said. He said he'd never before had a problem with the farm owner's pets hut the aggression shown by another dog incited them all. "I had to fend them off with my hand and I was calling out for help," he said. "There was blood all over the floor (of the farm shed)." He said the pack retreated but came back at him on two more occasions.

"I managed to fend them off with a chair which I could grab. I had flesh hanging off me, especially on my arm and leg," Mr Schmidlin said. "I was trying not to fall down because I knew if I did I would have had much worse injuries."

He said he ended up climbing aboard a small tractor to escape the animals until help arrived.

He was taken to Cairns Base Hospital for treatment. His major injuries include gashes to his right calf muscle and right forearm, a badly bruised right shoulder and a finger that was bitten through -it was a terrifying experience. “If I was a kid I'd be dead," Mr Schmidlin said. He said he was a dog lover and hated to think of the animals being destroyed, saying a better solution would be for owners to control their animals.

"I don't really blame the animal so much as the owner for not making sure it didn't happen," Mr Schmidlin said.

"I want to try and make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again."  Mr Herrington said the attack was shocking and he'd always raised his dogs -Labradors, bulldogs and crosses of both - to be gentle. He said Mr Schmidlin had come on to the property unannounced and the dogs simply were protecting the area.

"I think something that can be applied across the board, especially in farm situations, is for people to stay in their cars until someone comes out to meet them," Mr Herrington said.

He said he was aware of council limits on dog numbers and would take action to comply with those regulations. He said he believed only a couple of the dogs actually had bitten Mr Schmidlin but said he did not witness the entire incident, which happened very quickly. "It was really, really quick - bloody scary actually," he said.

While the thought of putting down his pets was heartbreaking, Mr Herrington said he could not take the risk of the aggressors in the group attacking again. "As much as I love them, it is unacceptable," he said.

* * * * * *
My thought for today. - Werner
Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience. -- Paulo Coelho
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Pam said...

Wow. How terrifying. Good job you had presence of mind to climb up and out of reach. Nightmare stuff. You sure are resilient Werner!

June Cross WA said...

OMG, to be attacked by five dogs and survive is a miracle. I was attacked once by one dog while walking along the street and that was terrifying, but being attacked by five dogs; say it was terrifying would have to be an understatement.

Sandra, Geelong Vic. said...

I read the Horror Dog Attack and I liken it to what is being done to us with the waste pollutant in our water supplies, we cannot get away from it, we have no choice. It is an act of terrorism in its own way. Just as the horror you faced with these dogs; this is a horror we, our children and grandchildren face without proper education every day. An ugly solution to finding a place to get rid of the toxic waste.

I am so glad you had the presence of mind to climb to higher ground and that you and your family are together fighting for human rights.

And, may we all be able to turn the tide on the horror monsters of the past and the current idiots who think they know what is best for us.