Many dog attacks go unsolved
Nearly half of the alleged dog attack complaints to the Palmerston North City Council in the first half of this year are unresolved.
City council head of environmental protection services Wayne Jameson said there were 111 reported alleged dog attacks in the year to June 30.
But in about 40 per cent of those cases, the offending animal was unable to be located or identified.
About 60 per cent of the attacks were animal v animal, with the rest against people.
Council staff did as much investigation as they could into attacks, including searching the area, ensuring victims were looked after and checking databases for dogs known to roam, Mr Jameson said.
Uncommon breeds of dog could be tracked down by a document check, but if it was just described as "a labrador", Palmerston North's most common breed of pet dog, it was almost impossible, he said.
"People's descriptions of dogs vary dramatically."
In instances where a dog could not be found, there was not much more the council could do, he said.
Palmerston North couple Jim and Aroha Morgan had difficulty tracking down the dog that attacked them. Mr Morgan was walking their dog Chanel on the Manawatu River walkway this year when a fellow dog walker let her animal off its leash a few metres away.
It ran toward them, approaching another dog before attacking Chanel.
Mr Morgan was bitten on the wrist trying to prise the dog off, and Chanel was left with a tear and teeth holes in her neck, requiring antibiotics, pain relief, and leaving her with anxiety problems.
At the time, the owner of the attacking dog did not leave her details, or apologise, and Mrs Morgan was upset that she had no way of tracking her down.
Then, while out walking Chanel earlier this month, the same dog bounded up to Mr Morgan.
He confronted its owner, who refused to give her name, but asked for his address.
The Morgans' were thrilled to receive a cheque in the mail last week which covered the vet costs, and a note from the woman expressing her regrets over what happened. It explained that her dog had been undergoing an intensive training programme since the incident.
Mr Jameson said if a dog was found, animal control officers then had to track down its owner, which could also be problematic.
When an offending animal could not be found, the complaint stayed on the system as "unable to progress".
Owners present at such attacks were usually apologetic and helpful, but in cases where they were not, he did not recommend confronting them.
The dog may still be agitated and confronting its owner may make the situation worse, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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