Two 'Pit Bull-type' dogs were seen brutally attacking and killing what is believed to be a small fur seal at Pukehina Beach at New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty on Sunday morning, reports SunLive.
Two men with brooms tried to get the dogs off of the seal and referred to it as having been through a “blood bath,” leaving the badly injured animal already “more dead than alive,” according to SunLive.
At first the dogs were thought to be wandering strays. Eastern Waikato Police are crediting an alert member of the public for helping locate the owner of the two Pit Bulls.
Senior Constable Matt Goodman said a number of agencies called in with information in relation to the incident, including the police.
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According to the police media release:
"A small seal had been reported by joggers and walkers on the beach in Tairua's inner harbour in the morning and the local Harbour Master had gone down to check it was ok. "Then about 12.20 pm two Pitt-bull type dogs were seen to attack the seal, causing fatal injuries.”
The report continues, “The animals were seen being put into a car that drove off, but a member of the public quickly relayed the vehicle's registration number to Police."
Armed with that and other information they gained from witnesses at the scene,” It wasn't long before the vehicle owner was located by the police and the male driver confirmed he is the owner of the dogs,” Scoop.co.nz reports.
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Police state they have begun an investigation in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and the Thames Coromandel District Council to determine what, if any, charges may be filed.
Under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, penalties range from up to six months' jail or a fine of up to $250,000 for killing marine mammals.
“Police would like to remind dog owners of their responsibilities for their animals." said Senior Constable Goodman. “The owner has a duty to keep their dog under control and to ensure it does not carry out such an attack.”
Seeing the attack was undoubtedly a traumatic one for onlookers, he said, because a number of the people had interacted with the seal prior to the attack.
Biodiversity Ranger Dan Rapson, of the Department of Conversation, warned that dog owners must ensure their animals are on a leash if they know a seal is on the beach, in order to assure the safety of both the dog and the seal.
“Dogs are obviously curious, he told Sunlive, and they’re attracted to things like seals; and sometimes a big, healthy seal can turn around and attack a dog.”