By Mitch Guy
A DESPICABLE act of dog baiting has had a profound effect on an Inverloch family, who lost their much-loved dog last Sunday.
Dave and Emma Wijsma, and their three year-old daughter, Edith, have been left devastated by the loss of their seven year-old Kelpie cross, Gnarly, who Dave described as his best mate and a popular dog in the neighbourhood.
The drama unfolded on Sunday morning when Dave and his daughter woke up and Gnarly was missing, with evidence of blue vomit along the driveway and on Gnarly’s bed.
Dave went for a walk but Gnarly was nowhere to be seen.
A couple of hours later a neighbour knocked on the door with the tragic news that Gnarly had died at his house.
At the time, Dave had no idea what had caused the death.
“I didn’t think someone would poison her because she’s well-known for being a gentle, friendly dog; she’s never aggressive and doesn’t bark so I didn’t know what it could be,” he said.
“I brought her into the backyard and laid her down on carpet and put a rug over her, then buried her pretty quickly because I didn’t want my daughter to see.”
It was later that day that Dave found out through social media that a lump of meat with poison bait had been found in the Sandy Mount Avenue area on Sunday morning, near Dave’s house and the Inverloch Recreation Reserve.
Gnarly had been let off the leash in the area while the pair had walked back from the supermarket on Saturday evening.
“As soon as I saw the photo of the bait with blue poison, it was pretty clear it was the only explanation for something like that to happen so suddenly overnight to such a healthy dog,” Dave said.
“She’s my best mate so I haven’t really thought about why a person would do it, because I’m still getting used to the fact that day-to-day life is changing.
“She isn’t there in the morning, isn’t there at smoko, all those little things in the day.
“I can’t see any reason why anyone would think that’s a good approach for anything, whether it’s for dogs or cats.
“I’m not sure what they were trying to achieve, I can’t even imagine what they would see as success.
“I think if they really saw what their actions have done, I can’t see how they couldn’t have remorse unless they are cold hearted.
“It’s pretty quiet around without her. Usually the school kids yell out to her and get her attention and all the neighbours’ kids are always patting her on the way past. She’s well-known so a lot of people are going to miss her.”
The family are now mourning the cruel and heartless loss of their dog and hope that no more pets are harmed.
“I don’t reckon any dog will replace her because she was so unique and she’d been taught so many things from Emma and I during a stage of our lives, which I don’t think can be replicated again,” Dave said.
“Down the track I’ll definitely get a dog. You feel a bit lonely without it and you feel like you need that canine company.
“The response I’ve had from everyone is overwhelming. I think Gnarly had a lot more friends than I have. A lot of people have contacted me that I didn’t know that well to show their remorse.”
Inverloch Police is investigating the incident and is working with Agriculture Victoria and local vets to find the culprits.
Police confirmed two baits have been seized for analysis, with the second bait found at the Inverloch Recreation Reserve on Thursday.
There has also been a possible sighting of a third bait reported in the area.
Sergeant Colin Shepherd, of Inverloch Police, said it’s a disgraceful act that police are taking very seriously.
“I think everybody thinks it’s a disgraceful act and there are serious offences involved if we catch somebody,” he said.
“Our inquiry is in conjunction with the local vets and the community’s involvement through the social media campaign has been great.
“It’s an awareness campaign and it’s been great that it’s gone viral.”
Sergeant Shepherd reminded the public to keep an eye on dogs and small children, and report any information to police.