Warning: This video contains content which might disturb some viewers.
The Department of Conservation (DoC) is outraged after a video was released showing a horrific dog attack on a fur seal in Canterbury.
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The footage was shot by a member of the public near Kaiapoi earlier this week, and shows a small white dog with ginger markings savaging the helpless animal. The seal attempts to escape its torment by writhing to safety, but can't get free of the mauling and is brought down again.
Shockingly, the owner fumbles around for five minutes before managing to gain control of his animal, adding to the seal's distress.
Biodiversity ranger Anita Spencer says DoC is appealing for information about the dog attack and the owner.
"We want to speak to anyone who may have seen the seal being attacked, or the dog and its owner on the beach around the Pines Beach area, mid to late morning on Tuesday," she says.
"We realise this footage is distressing, but we want people to understand how easily a dog attack on a seal can happen. The consequences are almost always bad for the seal and dogs can be bitten as well."
New Zealand fur seals/kekeno are fully protected and it is dog owners' responsibility to keep their dogs under control. Despite this, last year three seals were killed by dogs on Christchurch beaches.
"The dog in this video is clearly not under effective control and we're disappointed this is yet another dog attack on a seal," Ms Spencer says.
"People need to be more aware that seals share our beaches with us and more vigilant in keeping their dogs under effective control. Seals regularly rest on local beaches and people need to expect them to be there."
People are asked to call the Christchurch Mahaanui DoC office +64 3 341 9100 or the 24-hour DoC hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) if they have any information about the attack, the dog or its owner.
DoC recommends keeping dogs on a leash in areas where there are seals present and keeping a safe distance of at least 20 metres away.