Death-row dogs in pound break-out
Two dangerous dogs freed from death row in separate break-ins at Greymouth's dog pound may attack more victims before they are recaptured.
"There are two potentially dangerous dogs out there that can and will bite again," Grey District Council chief executive Paul Pretorius warned today.
Both dogs had bitten people previously and dog control officers had applied for destruction orders.
Sometime overnight Monday, thieves went to "extreme lengths" to break into the pound and freed all eight dogs locked there, Pretorius said.
"Let's call a spade a spade. We've got a totally lawless element that is thumbing their nose at the law."
Two of the dogs were yet to be found by this afternoon, including a German Shepherd called Ben that bit someone in Christchurch, attacked another person in Selwyn district then bit a child in the street in a small town near Greymouth earlier this year.
It had been on death row in Greymouth's pound for more than 100 days, where it had been due to stay until a court hearing into its destruction in September.
The other dog was a seven-month-old puppy waiting to be re-homed.
Two weeks ago, a large bull mastiff dog called Nui was stolen in an audacious daylight theft after it was impounded on May 1 for viciously attacking an elderly man in Runanga that day.
Pretorius said Nui's owners visited the dog daily since its capture.
On June 4, two women came to visit Nui and were allowed to walk it in a secure area while the dog pound controller was busy cleaning out cages.
Soon after, the owners went to the dog controller to claim their dog had disappeared.
"They came to him and said 'Where's the dog'. He said 'What do you mean? The dog's with you'."
Contract workers outside the pound had spotted a man cutting the pound's barbed wire fence and bundling the dog into a waiting car.
They took the car's registration number.
Pretorius said police were investigating both incidents but stressed he was not implying the dogs' owners were involved.
"I think that incident has given the second group the impetus to do so too."
He said the pound's processes would be reviewed but he believed it was as secure as it necessary.
"It is the pound, not the gold mint. We have to be reasonable."
Runanga dog bite victim Jimmie Hambley, 81, said today he was shocked to learn two weeks ago that thieves had freed Nui.
The retired Runanga coalminer was disappointed police or the council had failed to charge Nui's owner over the vicious May 1 attack.
"Even if the dog has got away, the ones who are the owners haven't been taken to court. It attacked another joker a month or so before me. The council knew that."
He had been visiting a Ballance St property about 11am that day when the dog, which had strayed there from a few doors away, lunged at him and ripped a 15cm gash to the bone in his right forearm.
"It hurt, there's no doubt about that.... I roared at it and used pit language."
A neighbour rushed to his assistance and he was taken to Grey Base Hospital by ambulance for numerous stitches.
He still needed regular wound dressings by district nurses.
Hambley said he had never met the property's owners before but understood the dog had strayed there from its home a few doors away on McKenzie St.
The owners had since visited him to apologise.
"The dog should have got put down. It will do it again and this time, if it's a kid, the kid won't get away from it."