News, Culture & Society

First Dates Giacomo Franceschi owns dog that attacked horse at Sydney park

The owner of the dog that attacked a horse in front of shocked families in a busy Sydney park is a reality TV star who runs a hipster kombucha drink company.

Daily Mail Australia can reveal Giacomo Franceschi – the maître d’ on Channel 10’s First Dates and manager of top Merivale bar Charlie Parker’s, is the pet’s owner, who says he is ‘fundamentally sorry’ for the ugly incident.

Lunar, a $100,000 horse, was attacked by his white dog Supi in Centennial Park in the city’s inner-east on Saturday afternoon as horrified onlookers watched on.

Ian Benson, Lunar’s owner, was walking her through the parkland’s horse trail when he saw the dog ‘lock on’ from about 50 metres away, with the owners unable to call the animal back.

The agitated canine then spent as long as five minutes attempting to bite the distressed horse, before Mr Benson managed to grab her by the collar and pin her to the ground. 

He said the dog’s owners were telling them his horse was ‘fine’ before scooping up the pet and running off to their car.

But Franceschi, founder of non-alcoholic drink company Beesbucha, has now expressed his regret over the incident and says it was the first time he took his pet pooch Supi to the park after rescuing her last year.  

Daily Mail Australia can reveal the dog’s owner is Giacomo Franceschi, the maître d’ on Channel 10’s First Dates

Franceschi works as the host at the restaurant on the popular dating show, which sees strangers meet for the first time at a swanky restaurant in Sydney's CBD

Franceschi works as the host at the restaurant on the popular dating show, which sees strangers meet for the first time at a swanky restaurant in Sydney’s CBD

‘I take full responsibility for what happened. I never could have imagined it happening and of course, I have learnt a huge lesson the hard way,’ he said. 

‘I will continue to be the best owner possible for Supi and I am so sorry to the owner of the horse and to the horse.

‘I have spoken with the park rangers to express my sincere apologies and pay the $330 fine for not having Supi on the leash.’

Franceschi works as the restaurant host on the popular dating show which sees strangers meet for the first time at a swanky eatery in Sydney’s CBD.

He greets the men and women who arrive at the establishment before showing them to their tables – often engaging in small talk with the love-seeking contestants.

On a recent episode, professional wrestler Paris showed off his fighting skills by jokingly brawling with Franceschi after his date asked him to demonstrate his ‘signature move’.

Franceschi said he had rescued the dog named Supi last year and it was her first time at the park. He said he was 'fundamentally sorry' for the incident

Franceschi said he had rescued the dog named Supi last year and it was her first time at the park. He said he was ‘fundamentally sorry’ for the incident

The dog runs back and forth attempting to dodge the people blocking it before repeatedly attempting to bite the horse's legs

The dog runs back and forth attempting to dodge the people blocking it before repeatedly attempting to bite the horse’s legs

The Italian-born actor also runs the organic drink brand Beesbucha, which is based out of trendy Bondi.  

Franceschi, who has images with Supi on his Instagram with hashtags that include ‘#whitepitbull’, said the dog is an Australian bulldog – and not a pitbull as first reported.

He said he was walking with her off-leash because he had never seen her ‘act out before’, claiming the attack continued as long as it did because she was ‘provoked’. 

‘I rescued Supi who is an Australian bulldog one year ago and she has been nothing but incredible, calm, and friendly,’ Franceschi said. 

‘Supi had a tough start to her life and since rescuing her she has been a truly wonderful dog.

‘On Saturday I took her to Centennial Park for the first time. It is my fault that I didn’t have her on a leash, but she has never acted out before. 

‘She saw the horse – her first time seeing a horse – and she reacted. In the process of trying to grab her she was provoked and continued to try and go for the horse.’

Franceschi, who has images with Supi on his Instagram with hashtags that include '#whitepitbull', said the dog is an Australian bulldog - and not a pitbull

A stock image of an Australian bulldog - the same breed Franceschi says Supi is

Franceschi, who has images with Supi on his Instagram with hashtags that include ‘#whitepitbull’, said the dog is an Australian bulldog – and not a pitbull

Franceschi works as the restaurant for the popular dating show, which sees strangers meet for the first time at a swanky restaurant in Sydney's CBD

Franceschi works as the restaurant for the popular dating show, which sees strangers meet for the first time at a swanky restaurant in Sydney’s CBD

On a recent episode, professional wrestler Paris showed off his fighting skills by jokingly brawling with Franceschi after his date asked him to demonstrate his 'signature move'

On a recent episode, professional wrestler Paris showed off his fighting skills by jokingly brawling with Franceschi after his date asked him to demonstrate his ‘signature move’

Mr Benson said the most disappointing part of the incident was the alleged unwillingness of Franceschi to exchange details.

‘After it all finished and I caught the dog and pinned him down, I told him to keep his dog on a lead and asked for his license and phone number. He asked why, and I said “because your dog attacked my f***ing horse”,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘He told me my horse was fine, that I didn’t need his details and scooped up his dog and ran off.’

The First Dates star insisted he did apologise to Lunar’s owner but left abruptly to ensure she didn’t attack again. 

‘Once I got control of Supi, I apologised to the horse rider, we helped him find his AirPods that were lost in the commotion and then removed Supi from the scene,’ Franceschi said.

‘As you can imagine adrenaline was running high and I wanted to get Supi away.’

The reality TV maître d’ said he was ‘saddened by the aggressive response on social media’ and promised not to have the dog off leash again.

‘I appreciate people are seeing the video and not understanding how much of a mistake it was,’ he said.

‘This is the first time Supi has ever shown behavior like this and it goes without saying that I will ensure she is never in a situation like this again and will of course be on a leash.’ 

Ian Benson (pictured) said the most disappointing part of the incident was the unwillingness of Franceschi to exchange details

Ian Benson (pictured) said the most disappointing part of the incident was the unwillingness of Franceschi to exchange details

The First Dates star told Daily Mail Australia he did apologise to Lunar's owner and left abruptly to ensure Supi (pictured) didn't attack again

The First Dates star told Daily Mail Australia he did apologise to Lunar’s owner and left abruptly to ensure Supi (pictured) didn’t attack again

Lunar’s owner said the dog came bolting in from some distance, with her owner walking without a lead and unable to restrain her.

He said he was shocked the dog wasn’t killed after Lunar kicked her in the head twice while trying to escape her jaws.

‘I’m amazed it’s not dead,’ Mr Benson said. ‘It was kicked twice in the head. I did everything I could to get it away but it wouldn’t stop.

‘These dogs can do a lot of damage. Last time we had an attack from a dog like that, the horse had to be put down from the injuries.’

Lunar ‘amazingly’ suffered no injuries from the attack, but the rider said it was the second incident they’d had with a dog that week.

‘It’s not even about the breed of the dog, if you get any sort of dog go after a horse, if a young girl is on a pony, the rider can get dropped,’ he said.

‘A horse will try to gallop home naturally, a family of four could be driving past and see a horse jump through the windscreen.

‘Generally speaking dogs realise after a second or two they’re outmatched or outsized. Lunar is good with dogs too, she’ll just stand there.’

Lunar was attacked by a white dog in Centennial Park in the city's inner-east on Saturday afternoon in front of a number of shocked families

Lunar was attacked by a white dog in Centennial Park in the city’s inner-east on Saturday afternoon in front of a number of shocked families

The attack was caught on camera by local resident Shannon Bishop, who walked into the section of the park several minutes into the attack

The attack was caught on camera by local resident Shannon Bishop, who walked into the section of the park several minutes into the attack

‘I’m dealing with a 750kg animal who is startled, I can’t go chasing after him to get his details. Thankfully she was fine because to call a vet out alone is $200.’

He said if Lunar had acted erratically from the attack the incident could have ended significantly worse. 

‘If a dog attacks someone, the owner is liable. If my horse runs away as a result of this dog and hits a mother pushing a pram it’s my fault,’ Mr Benson said.

‘I’ve had incidents in the park before and they’ve always been good enough to hand over details and that be that.’ 

The attack was caught on camera by local resident Shannon Bishop, who described the incident as ‘awful.’ 

‘I saw the horse rear up on its hind legs and thought s**t what’s going on there?’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Then I saw the dog. I was absolutely shocked at how aggressive the dog was, I could see it trying to snap at the underbelly of the horse. It was also snapping at the legs.’

Mr Benson with his beloved horse Lunar - the rider said amazingly she suffered no injuries in the ugly incident

Mr Benson with his beloved horse Lunar – the rider said amazingly she suffered no injuries in the ugly incident

Bystanders captured the horrifying moment the off-leash dog attacked Lunar in front of shocked families on Saturday

Bystanders captured the horrifying moment the off-leash dog attacked Lunar in front of shocked families on Saturday

In the footage, the dog repeatedly runs back and forth attempting to dodge the good Samaritans trying to block it from taking more chunks out of the horse’s hind legs.

Lunar eventually kicks the dog off him with a powerful defensive swing.

‘It was awful to see,’ Ms Bishop said of the pair.

‘I was incredibly shocked at how useless the dog’s owners were, at one stage they were attempting to block the dog but it went on for ages. It was quite confronting,’ she said.

‘I really was afraid it was going to get the horse.’

What are the rules for keeping dogs on leashes in Sydney? 

Under the Companion Animals Act 1998, dogs must be kept on a leash in all public places. 

This means when you are outside your home, including on the footpath, your dog must be on a leash – except in designated off-leash parks. 

The City of Sydney manages over 45 off-leash areas.

Keeping your dog on a leash helps keep your dog safe from running onto the road or being separated from you. 

It also reduces the chance of your dog causing a nuisance or harm to other people or animals. 

You can be fined for having your dog off the leash in a public place. 

You can also be fined in an off-leash area if you cannot effectively control your dog and it is disturbing or threatening other people or animals. 

Source: City of Sydney website 

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