IT’S a moment permanently etched in Lorraine O’Donnell’s memory – the piercing screams for help, the dogs covered in blood, the tiny girl laying dead on the floor.
Ms O’Donnell, who was babysitting toddler Ruby-Lea Burke when she was mauled to death at Whitton in 2009, has backed calls for a ban on dangerous dogs in the wake of another fatal attack in the Riverina last week.
Sunday’s attack in Deniliquin had eerie similarities to the Whitton incident – both involved bull mastiff-crosses and both occured when toddlers innocently opened the rear door of the homes.
“When I heard about the Deniliquin attack my blood ran cold,” Ms O’Donnell said.
“Ruby-Lea is in my mind every minute, every hour of every day. I really feel for the family of this latest victim.
“You should never trust a dog, no matter how big or small it is. I learned the lesson the hard way.”
She said while dogs weren’t “born evil”, there should be tighter restrictions put on dangerous breeds and more emphasis placed on responsible ownership.
“The attack on Ruby-Lea happened because I wasn’t the pack leader of those dogs,” Ms O’Donnell said.
“If I was, it wouldn’t have happened.”
She said she still owned a dog – a blue heeler – but kept it outside and ensured it had proper training.
All Creatures Great and Small vet clinic’s Dr Brian Taylor said it was critical owners remained the “alpha” over their dogs.
“The owner needs to be the alpha, the boss, and if you don’t have that relationship you could have problems,” Dr Taylor said.
“And they don’t have to be big dogs to be dangerous; the average Jack Russell requires a pretty big stick.”