The West Australian exclusive

Port Kennedy woman Marian Balaam in shock that killer dog allowed to live after ripping her pet Ava to shreds

Rachel FennerSound Telegraph
Marian Balaam with Ava’s ashes and her favourite toy.
Camera IconMarian Balaam with Ava’s ashes and her favourite toy. Credit: PerthNow

Port Kennedy resident Marian Balaam relives the pain and anxiety of watching her beloved pet Ava May being torn to shreds by a killer dog every time she goes for a walk.

On November 8 , 2023, Ms Balaam took Ava May, a small Maltese cross shih tzu, for her regular afternoon walk.

The pair often noticed a large American bulldog smash up against the window of a neighbour’s house on their walk but, unusually on this day, the dog was tied to the back of his owner’s ute.

The dog’s owner, Simon Paul O’Neil, was nowhere to be seen.

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When the thin rope holding the dog broke, he bolted towards Ava.

“He grabbed her, took her out of her harness and on to the road and she just screamed and I’ve never heard anything scream like that,” Ms Balaam said.

“I screamed and swore, he shook her like a rag doll, the owner heard the commotion and came out and started thumping into his dog and managed to pull him off but the damage was done.”

Ms Balaam wrapped Ava in her shirt and said she could “feel meat”.

Ava Marie in happier times.
Camera IconAva Marie in happier times. Credit: Supplied.

Covered in blood, Ms Balaam rushed Ava to the vet.

“I handed her to the receptionist and said ‘she’s been mauled’,” Ms Balaam said.

Ava was torn to pieces with internal injuries and her hind leg hanging off, a sight Ms Balaam says she will “never unsee”.

She decided to put down her beloved pet of 10 years and sang Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl to her as she died.

O’Neil received a $2500 fine and was ordered to pay the remainder of Ms Balaam’s vet bills at Rockingham Court on Monday, March 11.

The City of Rockingham’s rangers did not request the court to order the dog’s destruction.

Ms Balaam is concerned that while the American bulldog has been declared dangerous, it is still allowed to remain in the community.

“It shouldn’t be allowed to (live), what would be the result be if it was a kid or an old person because it was horrific,” she said.

“I think in a case like this, the dog should be put down, it shouldn’t be second chances.

“If you’re dog bites my dog and it’s a flesh wound, fair enough, but this was a mauling.”

Ms Balaam still experiences anxiety following the shock attack.

“It took two or three weeks to actually go for a walk by myself because I didn’t feel safe,” she said. “I still don’t walk that way even though I was told they’d moved.

“I haven’t eaten red meat for four months, I’ve only just had a steak, I can’t cook it. I’ve had nightmares and I have post-traumatic stress in the sense that I could be sitting here and get a flashback.”

Dave is a comfort for Ms Balaam after Ava's attack.
Camera IconDave is a comfort for Ms Balaam after Ava's attack. Credit: Rachel Fenner

Six days after Ava’s death, Dave, another Maltese shih tzu, joined Ms Balaam’s family and he is easing some of the pain.

Ms Balaam said she’d like to see legislation change where dog attack fines go to dog rescues.

“I’d like to see the fines go to good use, not just into government coffers,” she said.

She would also like to see puppy training become mandatory for dog owners.

“I think dog owners need to be more responsible,” she said.

“It’s something I never want to see again.”

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