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'I felt like the wildebeest in National Geographic': Cyclist recounts wild dog attack

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Neighbours east of Dorchester are demanding action after an alleged attack by dogs.

This week, a cyclist was bitten while riding through the area.

It is not the first alleged incident.

The dogs, some call strays, others dub wild, have been spotted running loose in a rural area between Marion and Catherine Streets, east of Highway 73.

“They’re hungry and running self-sufficiently over the land here. I don’t think somebody properly feeds them,” resident David Sudan told CTV News London.

Sudan said his chickens were attacked, so he started carrying an air horn on his property.

David Sudan, seen on May 3, 2024, has taken to carrying an air horn with him when he goes outside out of fear an alleged pack of wild dogs could attack him or his livestock. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

Just 24 hours later, the dogs returned.

“The second day, I met them personally. I tried to get rid of them with my shovel,” he said.

Dorchester cyclist Mark Hemmings had a close encounter with a pack of dogs last summer. However, this past Monday, he could not get away.

While riding on Marion Street, he spotted multiple dogs.

Two broke away from the pack and took positions on either side of his bicycle.

“And all of a sudden, the one on the right jumps up and he latches onto my thigh,” explained Hemings. “And that’s when all of a sudden I felt like the wildebeest in the National Geographic.”

Bleeding, Hemmings managed to pedal for another 500 metres before the dogs broke off their pursuit, “That's when I decided to call the OPP and let them know what had happened.”

Bite marks are seen on the leg of Mark Hemmings of Dorchester, Ont., on May 3, 2024. He was attacked by dogs on April 29, 2024, while riding in an area where many residents contend a pack of wild dogs is roaming free. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

Hemmings said a police officer confirmed there was an open investigation file.

But neither he nor Sudan are confident quick action will be taken.

“The whole system here seems to be office ping-pong,” said Sudan. “From bylaw, to the OPP, to the ministry, nobody really wants to touch the matter.”

Sudan worries a lack of action could lead to more serious dog attacks, like one in Edmonton a month ago.

“And it has happened already in another province. A child has been mauled to death,” said Sudan.

A fear shared by Hemmings. He is back cycling, but not without flashbacks, “If I had wobbled a bit, or fallen over, well, I don’t think anything is stopping them.”

The Municipality of Thames Centre said it is aware of roaming dog reports and is working with police and animal care agencies.

A security camera catches three of several dogs attacking a chicken pen on the property of David Sudan. (Source: Submitted)

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