5 DOGS WERE KEPT AT THE HOME OF THE BABYSITTER FOR THE 2 TODDLERS - RUBY AGE 3, AND HER SISTER LILY 14 MONTHS OLD. 3 OF THE DOGS WERE BULLMASTIFF/RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK MIXES. RUBY WAS ATTACKED AND KILLED BY 4 OF THE DOGS AND HER SISTER LILY WAS SEVERELY INJURED. RUBY'S INJURIES
WERE SO SEVERE, SHE COULD NOT BE VISUALLY IDENTIFIED.
On January 7, 2009, Three-year-old Ruby-Lea Burke was attacked and killed by four large dogs on the kitchen floor of the Whitton, New South Wales ( NSW) Australia, home of her babysitter, Lorraine O'Donnel. Her younger sister Lily-May, age 14 months, was severely injured.
An inquest into the death has been told a national database of such attacks is needed.
Animal behaviour specialist Kersti Seksel also recommended a nationwide approach to legislation for the control of companion animals.
Deputy State Coroner Paul MacMahon on Wednesday referred Dr Seksel's recommendations to a taskforce set up to advise the NSW government.
It follows a crackdown by the Victorian government on the owners of dangerous dogs after a horrific attack on a young girl in Melbourne last month.
The four-year-old was clinging to her mother's leg as she was mauled to death by a pit bull mastiff dog which ran into their house.
In his findings handed down in Griffith Coroner's Court on Wednesday, Mr MacMahon said Ruby-Lea's injuries were so bad that she could not be visually identified.
"The attack was a ferocious one," he said.
"Ruby-Lea's death could have been prevented had the dogs ... been managed effectively."
"Dr Seksel also made a number of recommendations, including the creation of an expert committee to develop standard protocols for dealing with dog attacks, a nationally uniform approach to legislation ... (and) a national database to store all information on dog attacks."
But Mr MacMahon said it would be inappropriate for him to enact any of those recommendations because of "the limited circumstances I am investigating".
Instead, he passed them on to the newly formed Companion Animals Taskforce.
Ms O'Donnell and her partner, Ronald John Conlon, kept five dogs at their home and three of them were bull mastiff-cross-rhodesian ridgebacks.
During the findings, Ms O'Donnell's statement was read out publicly for the first time.
She described how she was in the bathroom with Lily-May when she heard a screen door opening.
Ms O'Donnell called out to Ruby-Lea: "Ruby girl, what are you doing? Don't you play with that door."
The girl replied that she wanted to pat the dogs.
Ms O'Donnell said: "Don't go near those dogs, they're naughty dogs."
She later heard the child screaming and found her on the kitchen floor with two dogs on her.
Mr MacMahon said the dogs were grossly obese, one of them weighing 40kg, which suggested they did not get much exercise.
He also noted a submission from John Wilson, barrister for Ruby-Lea's father Dawayne Burke, that "an examination of the available criminal offences showed there was a gap in the offences available to a prosecuting authority".
Mr Wilson had said a review of the options was needed to ensure accountability, the coroner said.
"I HAVE NEVER SEEN DOGS SO AGGRESSIVE ESPECIALLY SO LONG AFTER AN ATTACK ON A HUMAN BEING. I'M SURE ANYONE WHO ENTERED THE BACKYARD WHERE THE DOGS WERE KEPT WOULD HAVE BEEN ATTACKED. IT TOOK 2 DOSES OF THE DRUG XYLAZINE TO SEDATE THE DOGS THAT KILLED RUBY."
THIS CHILD WAS ALSO KILLED BY THE FAMILY'S RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK/BULLMASTIFF MIX