NZ fur seal/kekeno
Image: Leon Berard


A seal pup killed by a dog on a Wellington beach has prompted DOC to remind owners to ‘be present’ with their dogs during walks.

Date:  31 August 2023

The dog was seen by a witness on the beach carrying a dead seal pup in its mouth. The seal was recovered from the dog, and a postmortem was conducted to determine if the dog killed the seal or just found it.

While the dog’s owner said they did not see the dog attack the seal, the necropsy revealed puncture wounds and shaking trauma consistent with death by dog attack.

DOC Science Advisor Marine, Laura Boren, says this kind of death is entirely avoidable if people pay attention to their dogs.

“Walking your dog doesn't just mean taking it somewhere and letting it do its thing, while you do your thing,” says Laura. “Being a responsible pet owner means ‘being present’ with your dog on a walk, interacting with it, paying attention to it. Had the owner been paying attention in this instance, the interaction might not have even happened."

“If you’re going out on our beaches with your dogs, keep them monitored or leashed, especially if it looks like there are seals around. Pups cannot defend themselves, so it’s up to us as responsible owners to look out for them.”

DOC’s Lead the Way programme, in partnership with PD Insurance, provides dog owners with advice and tools to ensure you can be wildlife wise and safely exercise your dogs in nature while keeping wildlife and your dog safe.

PD Insurance COO Michelle LeLong says, “This heart-wrenching situation is a clear demonstration that pet owners need to be aware of what their dog is doing at all times while out and about, no matter how well behaved they are. Dogs are naturally curious, and this curiosity can unfortunately cause wildlife deaths, as well as serious health issues for the dog if they get into something that is rotting or toxic.

“We strongly urge all pet owners who enjoy New Zealand’s great outdoors to take a few minutes to read about the Lead the Way programme and how that can help dogs and wildlife live harmoniously.”

Find out more about Lead the Way.


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