'Snarling' dog struck in self-defence, court told

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 05/08/2014

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A man charged with bashing a dog's head with a walking stick says he only struck the canine to protect himself and his "family" - Dougal, his border terrier dog.

Paul Edward Godbaz, 70, was defending himself in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday against the charge, which stemmed from an incident while he was out walking his dog.

On December 5, he and Dougal were walking along Wood St in Palmerston North when they walked past the property of Sophie Barnard.

Tess, Barnard's blue heeler - the breed is also known as the Australian cattle dog - was loose in the property.

It jumped up on to the front fence and Godbaz hit it with his walking stick.

At the judge-alone hearing, Barnard said Godbaz hit Tess about six times with the stick.

She saw the incident through her lounge window and went out to confront Godbaz, who told her Tess was a "menace" and dared her to report him to the authorities. She did.

Jamie Baty, who lived across the road from Barnard, said he saw Godbaz waving a stick over the fence and heard a dog whining.

"How else did it get cut," Baty said. "Did it headbutt the fence while [Godbaz] swung a stick at it?"

Tess was taken to Cahill Animal Hospital and assessed by Dr Genevieve Rogerson.

Rogerson said the dog had a graze to its right eyelid, which was also swollen.

It also had a slow heartbeat, and its right eye was not responding to light - signs it had possibly suffered brain damage.

Tess' injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma and required medical assistance, she said.

Palmerston North City Council animal control officer Aaron Thornton said the house was well-fenced, with no evidence the owner was breaking any dog control laws.

Godbaz, who gave evidence in his defence, said Tess' head, chest and front legs were over the fence.

The dog was "snarling" and he feared for himself and Dougal.

"That dog was within a metre of me, threatening me.

"The biting, snarling, scratching parts of that dog were in my face."

Running away was not an option as his knees were "bung".

A former boxer with more than 200 fights under his belt, Godbaz said his hand-eye co-ordination was still sharp and he was positive his walking stick hit Tess once in the chest.

Any head injury could have happened while the dog fell from the fence, which would not have been his fault. "If I ankle-tap someone and they fall over and hit their nose, I can't be accused of punching them in the face.

"It just doesn't make sense."

Godbaz said he was a widower who had no other company, apart from Dougal.

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"That little dog is my family and I will protect that little dog.

"That's exactly what I did."

Judge Stephanie Edwards will deliver her judgment tomorrow.

Godbaz said he would appeal if need be.

- Manawatu Standard

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