Swan kills dog swimming in pond as horrified pet owner helplessly watches from shore

A swan viciously mauled a swimming dog as the pet's owner helplessly looked on from the shore Saturday in an attack that ultimately proved fatal.

The unidentified dog owner had taken his female cocker spaniel to swim in a duck pond at Bushy Park in Terenure, Ireland, around 11 a.m. when the animal unwittingly approached a group of swans and cygnets, or baby swans, the Irish Times reports.

Sensing a threat to the flock, one of the mature swans broke away from the others and made a beeline for the pup.

An eyewitness told the outlet that the dog's distraught owner tried calling her name to get her attention while other onlookers tried to distract the swan, but that all their attempts were fruitless.

"We started screaming at the swan, trying to distract it," he recalled. “The poor dog didn’t realize what was going on and swam straight for the swan."

The eyewitness, who was feeding ducks at the time of the incident, said the swan lifted up its wings and then beat down on the dog "with one wing and then the other."

"That stunned the poor thing," he told the Irish Times. "Three or four more slaps and she was gone."

The man described the attack, which lasted "no more than a few seconds," as extremely upsetting to both the dog owner and other onlookers.

"They need to put up signs telling people to keep their dogs on leads around the pond," he said. "The swan was just protecting its cygnets."

Peter Duignan, a Dublin City Council park ranger who helped retrieve the dog's body from the pond, described the incident as out of the ordinary. 

"I have never heard of anything like this happening before," he said.

A spokesman for the Dublin City Council told TheJournal.ie that in response to the attack, "temporary signage will be put up to alert people of the danger of dogs entering the pond."

"Swans are wild birds and while it was only protecting its young, it led to an unfortunate outcome," the council added.

Although swans may appear to be elegant creatures, they are known to be aggressive — especially male swans protecting their nests during peak nesting season, which occurs every year from April to June.

In April 2012, a 37-year-old man who worked for a company that provides swans to keep geese away from residential properties, was killed by a swan, the BBC reports. 

Anthony Hensley, a father of two, set out in a kayak across a pond at a residential complex in Des Plaines, Illinois, to tend to a group of swans when one of the birds charged his boat and capsized it. The victim tried to swim to shore but eyewitnesses said the swan appeared to actively block his attempts, leading him to drown. 

However, swan-related fatalities are apparently a rarity, according to John Huston of the Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset, U.K. 

"If you approach a swan nest on the river, they might get aggressive and hiss and flap their wings, but the danger is over-rated and it's a myth that they will break your leg or arm with their wings," he told the BBC. "They are not that strong and it's mostly show and bluster."

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