Holly’s memory put to rest

A FEW months after the fatal attack on Holly the greyhound, her owners now have a quiet place to remember their lost friend. 

The bench at Manning Park was installed last month by Cockburn council near the bottom of Manning Stairs. Don and Jean Heather, Holly’s owners, say they chose the spot for its view of the lake. “It’s a peaceful place,” Ms Heather said.

Behind the bench, a tree was planted in Holly’s memory at a planting ceremony attended by more than 100 people, and more than a few greyhounds. It was followed by a commemorative walk around the lake. Attendees included Fremantle state MP Simone McGurk and Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett.

Ms Heather called it “the start of the healing process” for her, as she was able to see how much Holly’s story touched people, and how caring people were. One guest took a silver bracelet off her own wrist and placed it on Ms Heather’s. It was inscribed with the words: “Dogs aren’t our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.”

Pupcakes were provided by Pawfect Bakery, who didn’t charge for the treats when they found out they were for Holly.

Ms Heather says she felt “sad, proud, and hopeful,” and that she would like for Holly’s death and the ceremony to put pressure on cities to take quicker action against dangerous dogs. 

Mr Heather says while he is grateful for the care the city took in erecting the bench, he would have preferred preventative action that could have saved Holly’s life.

Tia, the Australian bulldog that mauled Holly in April when she was on a walk with Pets of Olders Persons (POOPS) volunteer Ljubica Petrovic, had been involved in a prior attack on a kelpie that was reported but not quickly acted upon by the City of Cockburn. The Heathers believe a stronger response from the city would have prevented Holly’s death.

Tia’s owner has now been fined over $7,000 which includes fines for the attacks on both Holly and the kelpie, as well as legal fees. The Heathers and Ms Petrovic, who is a lawyer, are seeking a default judgement of $12,000 from Tia’s owners to cover the cost of Holly’s vet bills. 

A Gofundme page set up by POOPS after the attack raised over $19,000 dollars, but the Heathers don’t believe the public should foot the bill. If they are able to recover more money from Tia’s owner, they will donate all additional funds to POOPS, which provides free pet care to the elderly. Mr Heather calls it “a wonderful organisation.”

POOPS connected the Heathers to Ms Petrovic in 2020 and now “she’s like family,” says Ms Heather. Ms Petrovic says she prefers the company of older people, as they tend to have outgrown most of their inhibitions. 

POOPS also helped the Heathers find their latest pack member, six-year-old jack russell terrier and chihuahua mix Shilo, who they say has helped them heal from Holly’s death, as well as the death of their dog Shorty a couple of weeks prior.

Ms Petrovic has likewise turned to a four-pawed pal for comfort, as she now volunteers walking a greyhound named Tinker, who she has brought to visit Holly’s bench.

Greyhounds hold a special place in the Heathers’ and Ms Petrovic’s hearts because of their gentle natures, but attacks against them are so common that owners of greyhounds attacked in WA have formed their own Facebook group with hundreds of members. 

The Heathers attribute the prevalence of the attacks to lead and muzzle laws that make it impossible for greyhounds to flee or defend themselves. They hope Holly’s death will help bring those laws, which they call unnecessary, to an end.

by CARSON BODIE

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