GRAPHIC: 22 pets killed by dogs with collars on farm
IT'S a sight no pet owner should ever be faced with in their own backyard and the heartbreaking visual is sadly one that Splitters Farm owner Carly Clark won't forget anytime soon.
The Clark family woke up to the sound of their pet Australian Kelpie barking about 3am on Saturday morning, but the animal lovers could never have imagined the horror that had occurred on their Sharon property.
"My husband got out of bed, turned the security lights on and just saw bodies everywhere and two dogs mauling our animals," Ms Clark said.
"He came back to the bedroom and told me to come quick because it was an absolute bloodbath out there."
Grabbing a torch and a gun, the couple ran outside and past their shed, ready to shoot what they imagined were wild dogs and save as many of their pets as possible, until Ms Clark saw the two dogs wearing collars.
Able to secure the two dogs which appeared friendly towards people, the farm owners moved quickly to help their own beloved pets and rescue animals.
But it was too late and the devastating damage had already been done.
The two dogs had broken into the guinea pig hutch, chased animals into the pig pen and killed 22 animals who called Splitters Farm home.
"We spent the morning cleaning up bodies and feathers," Ms Clark said.
"Staff were arriving to work in tears and we had to ring my husband's parents at 5am in the morning to come look after the kids because we didn't want them to see their pets like that, so luckily they weren't exposed to it."
Posting a photo of the two dogs on Facebook, the owner came forward, apologised and promised the Clarks that he would ensure the two dogs were secured.
But the wave of destruction continued the following night, after neighbours from across the creek alleged the same two dogs mauled their chickens and chased their horses.
"Not armed with any information on the dogs or their history, we made the decision to return them to their owners and give them a warning," Ms Clark said.
"We hoped that seeing the devastation that had been caused would convince the owners to do the right thing and keep them secured."
While the farm owner admits the property sees the occasional goanna, snake or fox, wild animal attacks had only caused a handful of animal deaths at the farm over the last three years.
But Ms Clark said unlike nature acting out of survival instinct, this felt more sinister, with two birds experiencing so much pain from the injuries sustained during the attack that they had to be put down.
"The kind of devastation we saw that morning... should never happen and pet owners need to be more responsible and keep their pets secure, whether it's inside or in a reliable and lockable enclosure," she said.
Referring to the rescue animals as her babies, Ms Clark said it was an enormous loss for everyone who had fallen in love with the animals.
"People know our animals by name and follow their stories, so when people found out we lost most of our roosters, they were absolutely devastated by the loss," Ms Clark said.
"I had to ring the original owners who entrusted us with these animals, apologise and tell them that the rooster they hand raised and couldn't have because they live in town, had died."
Bundaberg Regional Council phoned the Splitters Farm owner yesterday and confirmed the two dogs had been seized.
A spokeswoman from the Bundaberg Regional Council said a complaint in relation to the matter was received on Monday, August 31 and was being investigated.
While the family are still recovering from the heartbreaking incident, Ms Clark thanked the community for their support during this challenging time.
Owners of one of the two roosters who survived, gifted the farm a painted memorial stone and Hibiscus Sharon tree, honouring the farm's location and to pay tribute to the animals that were recently lost.
The tree will be planted at the Splitter's Farm Father's Day event, which you can book tickets for here.