Disabled tenant to fight for killer dog

18:40, Mar 25 2014
Phillip Strang
KILLER COMPANION: Phillip Strang with Roxy, whom he calls his protector. But the elderly labrador-bull mastiff-ridgeback cross has killed two of his neighbour’s cats, and Housing NZ wants him to get rid of her.

A tetraplegic man is vowing "war" if Housing New Zealand forces him to get rid of his dog and protector.

Phillip Strang admits that Roxy, an elderly labrador-bull mastiff-ridgeback cross, has killed two of his neighbour's cats but maintains they strayed into his property and Roxy was within her rights to kill them.

Housing NZ is standing by its decision, saying Roxy was aggressive and that Strang was given the option of rehoming the dog. The matter is now going to the Tenancy Tribunal, which could make Strang get rid of Roxy.

Yesterday morning, two Housing NZ staff turned up at his Lower Hutt home to tell him they planned to take Roxy away because of the cat killings - which happened last year and a few weeks ago.

"I said to them, ‘You will have a war'. There is no way she is leaving without a fight."

Staff said they would go away and begin the necessary paperwork to remove Roxy, but did not reveal what her fate would be, he said.


Strang has been in a wheelchair since he fell 10 metres from a roof to a concrete driveway 12 years ago. He broke his neck in two places, his back once, and was in a coma for 16 days.

He got Roxy four years ago and she had since become his protector. "If she hasn't seen me for 10 minutes she will come down and check on me."

Housing NZ tenancy services acting regional manager Andrew Cairns said tenancy agreements included a no-dog clause, but exceptions could be made.

"We would always grant permission for guide dogs and disability assist dogs, or where a dog is seen as being important to therapy for mental illness or other chronic health condition."

But it also considered other issues, such as whether a dog had bitten anyone, whether a property was unsuitable for a dog, or if it caused damage. "We issued [Mr Strang] with a breach notice following his dog killing two cats belonging to a neighbour. Not surprisingly, these incidents were very distressing for the cat owner.

"The breach notice informed the tenant that he needed to find the dog another home.

"While we are sympathetic to the tenant feeling upset about having to rehome the dog, the dog demonstrated aggressive behaviour that poses a safety risk."

The Dominion Post