Angus Stewart, 9, and dad Darryl discovered three dogs dead on their Mungar property and another one missing.
Angus Stewart, 9, and dad Darryl discovered three dogs dead on their Mungar property and another one missing. Karleila Thomsen

Farmer suspects dogs were baited

A MUNGAR farmer and his children suspect their dogs were baited after three died and one mysteriously went missing from their Antigua Road property.

Maryborough police are investigating the deaths of two Maremma stock guardian dogs and a pet kelpie belonging to Darryl Stewart and his family.

The deaths of the animals was a cruel blow to the family, especially nine-year-old Angus who watched his beloved pet have convulsions before dying within 15 minutes, from suspected poisoning.

The family had gone out on Saturday morning to a sporting match and shopping and returned to their 45-acre Mungar property about 2.30pm.

“One of the Maremmas was lying just inside the fence here,” Mr Stewart said.

“At first we thought it was asleep because it didn’t move, but it was very dead.

“Then I turned round and on the other side of the fence was another dead Maremma.

“Our kelpie Gypsy came running down to see us, all happy because we were home.

“She was over in the grass for a moment, then she started having convulsions and was obviously in great pain – we watched her die.”

A fourth dog has been missing since Saturday and the Stewarts suspect it, too, has died.

The three dead dogs were taken to a vet who took samples for toxicology tests – the Stewarts are awaiting the results.

Mr Stewart, however, said all the signs pointed to the dogs being poisoned.

“One dead dog is one thing. I turn around and there’s another one dead. I don’t believe in that much coincidence.

“And when our kelpie started fitting – that was just shocking.

“It is quite obvious they were baited, with what we think could be strychnine.

“We believe the baits were tossed over the fence near our front gate.”

But there’s little chance the bait was the same wild dog bait that local councils use, according to Mr Stewart.

Dingoes have been a problem in the past and have regularly taken neighbour’s stock, which is why the Stewarts use guardian dogs to protect their flock of sheep.

But wild dog baits are not legally allowed to be used in the area because it is so close to Mungar State School.

“I’m worried about this happening to someone else,” Mr Stewart said.

“I don’t know if they are targeting farm dogs, any dogs or just our dogs. We’re not on a main road here, so it’s not a random thing.

“Poisoning our dogs is one thing but worse is the human, emotional cost.

“How do you comfort a nine-year-old child who has just discovered two dead dogs and then whose pet has just convulsed to death before their eyes?”

Anyone with information can call police on 4123 8111 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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