Pit bulls can be lethal
A couple whose dog was fatally mauled by pit bulls is pleading with owners of the dangerous breed to take the risks seriously.
"It doesn't matter how well the owner knows the dog. Those dogs have a tendency to snap and will do what they want," Kylie Hoppenjans says.
"I've seen what they can do."
Her three-year-old terrier cross, Tilly, was set upon by two pit bulls in an access way leading from Mt Royal Ave to Owairaka Domain on February 17.
The two attacking dogs and a third pit bull were let off their leashes by their owner moments before the attack, Ms Hoppenjan's partner Jason Tsang says.
"They just started circling Tilly. It was kind of frantic. And then there was biting and Tilly was yelping," he says.
"I was screaming at the owner to get them off.
"I think he was as scared as I was."
Tilly was covered in deep gashes and died during surgery.
The two pit bulls have been impounded by animal control and Auckland Council's legal team is reviewing the case.
The owner of the dogs went with Mr Tsang and Ms Hoppenjans to the vet on the night of the attack and helped pay for Tilly's care.
The couple want to encourage others to take dangerous dogs seriously. Pit bulls are classified by law in New Zealand as menacing dogs. They must wear muzzles in public places in Auckland and must be neutered.
"I know pit bulls get a rough time, but they are worse," Mr Tsang says.
"I'd hate to think this could happen to a child," Ms Hoppenjans says.
Mr Tsang finds it "just unbelievable" that the pit bulls who attacked Tilly were not on leashes.
"If they were, hopefully the worst situation would have been one bite before it could be pulled away."
Mr Tsang and Ms Hoppenjans only brought Tilly from an animal rescue centre three months ago.
"It's been tough," Mr Tsang says.
"She made a big difference to our lives," Ms Hoppenjans says.
SPCA Auckland executive director Bob Kerridge says it's not uncommon for people to turn a blind eye to the risks associated with pit bulls.
"There is this sort of feeling that ‘my dog isn't like that; some others might be, but mine's not'."
"The law has stepped in here and said there are some breeds that are menacing.
"Owners heads are in the sand a bit it if they don't realise it's a menacing dog, or abide by the law."
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