Bill for South Waikato dog fight rises $10,000

Carolyn King with her American Staffordshire terrier Jimbo.
Carolyn King with her American Staffordshire terrier Jimbo.

A dangerous dog at the centre of a High Court battle which has already cost taxpayers more than $67,000, has chewed through hundreds of dollars of special dog food and run up extra bills of nearly $10,000 during its incarceration.

Yesterday the Waikato Times revealed South Waikato District Council has spent more than $67,000 trying to have Jimbo, an American Staffordshire terrier who attacked and killed a pet rabbit, destroyed, but its owner, Carolyn King, is fighting hard to have the dog freed.

But now additional costs of keeping the animal locked up have been revealed, and the bill's rising each day.

Council environment group manager, Sharon Robinson said nearly $672 had been spent on providing Jimbo with special "long-term stay" dog food, $7845 has been spent on keeping it in the pound and $1174 on vet bills, including weekly checkups and treatment after it attacked another pound dog.

Mayor Neil Sinclair said he hated having to spend the money but he had no choice. "I'm hopping mad. I could do a lot more with that money in our community [but] who would put their hands up if the dog did attack a child? Who would want to release it and take that responsibility?" he said.

"It's nice to say it's a lovely, friendly dog but it attacked a rabbit and the judges said ‘yes, it was an attack . . . beyond reasonable doubt'. If a dog gets a taste for blood, it will keep going back. No one wants to release the dog and there's a gap in the law that says we can't destroy it if we don't convict Mrs King, and we don't want to do that, we never wanted to do that.

"When do you stand up for a principle? It would be easy to release it and save money but I've got to make certain my people are safe."

Owen Dance, president of New Zealand Kennel Club, said dogs should not be punished by breed but by deed, and believed Jimbo was likely a victim of prejudice which he compared to racism.

"He's been there coming up two years and, I don't know for sure, but it's possible that if he behaves aggressively now that could have been because of his incarceration," he said.

However, until the council meets next week to make the decision Jimbo's fate, and the cost of fighting, remain in limbo.

Waikato Times