Stalled dog laws review to get bite

23:20, Jan 22 2012
Dorset Grove, Porirua
CHAINED UP: A second dog was seen at the rear of the property in Dorset Grove, Porirua, where the toddler was attacked.

Another child has been mauled as the Government promises to kick-start a stalled pledge to investigate laws on dangerous dogs.

An 18-month-old Porirua girl attacked by her family's pitbull-staffordshire cross has been discharged from hospital after having extensive plastic surgery.

The dog is still alive as authorities must wait for the family's permission to destroy it.

There was another dog attack on a child – the sixth in four weeks – yesterday in Rotorua. A girl, 9, suffered deep cuts to her head and arm after being bitten by her neighbour's American bulldog.

She was taken to Rotorua Hospital with moderate injuries.

The girl was one of a group of children walking with the dog about 2.30pm. The dog owner's partner had tried to pull the dog away and jumped on the girl to protect her.

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Local Government Minister Nick Smith promised yesterday to kick-start a stalled pledge to investigate laws governing dangerous dogs.

The inquiry was supposed to take place last year.

Former local government minister Rodney Hide had pledged to reform dog control laws before the November election but that review had been delayed following the Christchurch earthquakes.

The new minister, Smith, said last night he was concerned about the seriousness of the latest attacks.

His office would investigate the incidents and identify whether there were any issues that had implications on dog control legislation in relation to public safety

CHILDREN HOSPITALISED

An Ashburton toddler who was bitten on the throat by a dog on Wednesday has been transferred to Auckland's Starship Hospital.

He remains in a critical condition.

The three-year-old was initially rushed to Christchurch Hospital after being bitten by a large dog while he was eating chocolate.

He was transferred to Starship Hospital on Friday to receive care in the specialist pediatric intensive care unit.

"He had surgery on Saturday and he's still critical but he's stable," an Auckland District Health Board spokeswoman said yesterday.

The family had requested privacy and no further details could be released, she said.

In Saturday's attack, the Cannons Creek toddler was playing in the backyard of her Dorset Grove home when the dog – thought to be a pitbull-staffordshire cross – launched itself at her.

Senior Sergeant Martin Tunley said the girl was bitten on the right cheek and jaw by the dog.

"It would appear that the child has crawled into the dog's chained reach."

The dog was taken away by animal control staff and impounded.

The dog's owner and parent of the victim told police it was a "mongrel crossbreed".

A Hutt Hospital spokeswoman said the girl was in a "satisfactory" condition yesterday after having extensive plastic surgery.

At the scene of the attack yesterday, another dog, tethered by a chain, could be seen at the rear of the property. Children's toys lay on the front lawn.

Dorset Grove resident Metu Maora described the 18-month-old girl as a dog-lover.

He had watched his own American pitbull dog jump on her about a month ago and had to call her away from it.

"I think she liked dogs and was trying to get to our dog."

His young children had regularly played at the girl's property – but were now banned from there since they had two other crossbreed dogs.

Porirua City Council spokeswoman Moana Wyatt said the dog responsible for the attack had been impounded but could not be put down until they received permission from the dog's owners.

"We're waiting for the owner to see the piece of paper [permission to destroy form] and today is clearly not the day for it. They have a child who is in an unfortunate position because of this attack."

The dog was registered with the council and both the dog and two others on the same property had no history of complaints on file.

Police would meet animal control staff this week to discuss whether charges would be laid.

A conviction for failing to control a dog causing injury can carry a three-year jail term and a $20,000 fine.

Dog rangers also seized two pitbull- type dogs from a Taranaki address yesterday after they allegedly bit an 11-year-old girl.

The girl was taken to Taranaki Hospital in New Plymouth following the attack at Waitara.

On Christmas Day, a 15-month-old boy was savaged by the next door neighbour's pitbull.

Another 3-year-old boy at Auckland's Red Beach needed plastic surgery after an attack a few days before that.

DOG BITE COMPLAINTS

There were at least 121 dog bite complaints in greater Wellington in the past financial year, documents released under the Official Information Act show.

Of those, 34 bite complaints were in Porirua and 41 in Wellington.

Porirua City Council prosecuted one person over a dog attack and 21 people were fined for failure to control a dog.

Mayor Nick Leggett said any dog attack, particularly on a child, was one too many.

"I'm thinking about them and hoping that the child is going to be left with minimum scarring."

The only way to minimise dog attacks was to educate owners, he said.

WHAT IS A DANGEROUS DOG?

A dangerous dog is one which the council has reasonable grounds to believe is a threat to people or other animals.

Dangerous dogs must be leashed and muzzled in public.

A dog can be declared as menacing if it is a possible threat to any person, stock, poultry, domestic animal, or protected wildlife because of its breed or its past behaviour.

There are four breeds/types banned from importation into the country which have to be classed as menacing.

The Dominion Post