Dog escapes death row, owner behind bars
A dog has escaped a death sentence for attacking someone in a Palmerston North park, as a judge lays the blame squarely at the feet of the animal's owner.
Corey McDonald's future has been set in stone for some time, after he pleaded guilty to a string of violence offences committed against people and property over a three-month period.
He was sent to jail for 18 months in December, but the fate of his dog, which he used as a weapon in one assault, was only decided on Thursday.
The labrador-cross was staring down the barrel of a death sentence since McDonald urged it to attack someone in a Kelvin Grove park on June 25.
McDonald was walking his dog when a man asked him to put it on a lead.
He responded by punching the man and encouraging the dog to attack.
The dog bit the man's legs and arms in what Judge Gerard Lynch described in the Palmerston North District Court as a "serious" attack.
McDonald was charged with owning a dog that attacks. While McDonald could only be fined, the law requires the attacking dog to be destroyed unless there are exceptional circumstances.
On Thursday, the judge decided those circumstances were met.
Police notes showed the dog behaved well while they took care of it.
Furthermore, a person with more than 30 years' experience caring for dogs said the animal was well behaved. That same person was willing to take ownership of the dog if it was spared.
"The actions of the owner – that's Mr McDonald – are key," the judge said.
"This is a dog that has not behaved violently in the past and the reason for the attack falls at Mr McDonald's feet."
The judge convicted McDonald on a charge of owning a dog that attacks and ordered him to pay $750 emotional harm reparation to the victim.