A 6-year-old boy has been airlifted to a hospital after being attacked by a dingo—one of Australia’s wild dogs—on a weekend family camping trip.
The family was on Fraser Island, a sandy location popular among tourists on the Sunshine Coast, where the local dingos have become increasingly bold.
Michael Schipanski, 6, was taken to a hospital on Jan. 19 to be treated for puncture wounds caused when a dingo tried to drag him off by the leg.
The boy’s father managed to pull his son from the dogs “within seconds,” according to an air ambulance statement, and carry him off to safety.
“The family had finished swimming when the young boy said he wanted to race up a sand dune, ” RACQ LifeFlight Rescue aircrew-man, Dan Leggat said. “Unfortunately, when he got to the top, there was a pack of four dingoes.”
His father Mark Schipanski said the four dingos “went straight into the chase-and-kill instinct,” reported the Queensland Courier-Mail, “They wanted blood.”
“I heard him screaming, bone-chilling screams of terror and fear and pain, and turned around and saw him set upon and dragged down by this pack of dingoes. It was out-of-control, vicious, terrifying.”
Fraser Island, one of the world’s sandiest islands, lies just off the central eastern coast of Australia and is a popular tourist destination.
But, according to some locals, the dingos that once kept themselves to themselves on the island have been emboldened in recent decades by foreign tourists who give the wild animals food.
Tempted by Pizza
The boy was flown to Hervey Bay Hospital in stable condition, according to the air ambulance service, where he was expected to remain for several days.
“He has severe puncture wounds, bite and teeth marks, to both his legs,” said Leggat. “One dingo had him by the leg and was trying to drag him off down the sand.”
In 2001, a 9-year-old boy was killed by a dingo on the island, and last year Queensland authorities put down a dingo after a woman and a child were bitten.
Dingos can weigh up to 33 pounds, according to National Geographic, and measure around 4 feet in length, and live and hunt alone or in packs.
Mike Smith has visited Fraser Island every few years since he was young.
He had heard of tourists feeding the dingos with pizza, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “The woman I spoke to approached the tourists and told them not to do it, but they couldn’t understand why they weren’t supposed to feed the dogs,” he said.
“At Waddy Point … we were there having a swim and basically, you could tell the difference between Australians and international tourists.
“The Australians were just watching the dingoes walk past, whereas the tourists were approaching and trying to pat the dingoes—that is the difference in thinking.”
The founder of the Fraser Island Defenders Association (FIDO), John Sinclair, said he believed dingoes were becoming fearless of humans on the island.
“I can remember my first trip to the island in 1957, we knew there were dingoes there then but we never saw one,” he told ABC. “They were adept at making themselves very secretive, you couldn’t lure them out, but now, of course, they’ve lost their fear of humans to a large extent and they’re less afraid to approach.”
He said that people should resist the temptation to feed them.
“They are calling the dogs over to them, they have their windows down. I’ve heard people encourage them to the car … just to get a photo.”
“There are just some animal lovers who can’t bear to see a hungry animal, and the other reason is people are very keen to get close photographs and get up close and personal to dingoes,” he said.