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Call the dog whisperer

I am terrified of dogs. I was bitten by a dog once and I have been afraid of them ever since. Whenever I am near a dog, I would edge nervously past it.

I try to avoid visiting homes which keep dogs. It is no good telling me that dogs are adorable or that they make faithful friends. All I see is a dog baring its teeth and growling.

I relived the horror of being bitten on Monday (January 10, 2011) morning when I read a report in the New Straits Times about two mongrels attacking an Irish tourist, Maurice Sullivan, to death at an organic farm in Teluk Bahang, Penang.

Sullivan, 50, and his companion Agnieszka Izabela, 28, had arrived at the durian farm on Saturday (January 8, 2011) as volunteer helpers. The idea was to stay on the farm and help around for an average of four hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation.

Sullivan was fatally mauled by the dogs sometime on Sunday when he and Izabela were leaving Joseph Teoh's -- the farm owner -- house which was situated on a hilltop and about 50m away from the scene of the incident.

Sullivan sustained severe injuries to his arm, thigh, chin and ears -- which were both bitten off -- and died on the farm.

The dogs are now under observation at the Penang state Veterinary Department in Balik Pulau. They will be in quarantine for 10 days from Monday (January 10, 2011).

I wonder what Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan has to say about the change in behaviour of the seemingly "friendly" farm dogs?

The dogs were said to be playing with the couple on Saturday afternoon. What had triggered the dogs' violent behaviour?

My friend WL, who likes dogs, has an interesting hypothesis. She says that the mongrels were friendly with Sullivan and Izabela on Saturday afternoon because their owner was with the tourists.

But without Teoh the animals might have viewed Sullivan and Izabela as intruders and reacted the way they had been trained.

What was going through the killer dogs' minds is a matter for conjecture. We will just have to wait for the report from the Veterinary Department.

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