Death-row dog must die, judge orders

Last updated 05:00 07/11/2012
Kaya

ATTACKER: Kaya the pitbull-cross.

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A last-ditch attempt to save Queenstown's first death-row dog from destruction has been thrown out by the High Court.

Kaya, a pitbull-cross owned by Karl Evans, was sentenced to death in August after attacking a maltese terrier, Raffy, which was walking past Mr Evans' house on February 7.

The order for Kaya's destruction was the first issued against a dog in the Queenstown Lakes District Council area.

Mr Evans' appeal against the order was heard by Justice Miller in the High Court at Invercargill yesterday.

His lawyer, David Slater, attempted to have the decision overturned by contending the circumstances around the attack were exceptional.

Kaya had not attacked any other dogs, Mr Slater said.

Justice Miller rejected this argument, saying the facts around the attack were mundane.

"What is there that could possibly justify a District Court judge [to say] this is so exceptional you shouldn't destroy this animal?" he asked.

Justice Miller also rejected Mr Slater's argument that two dog control officers who suggested Kaya was aggressive in the pound should not have been heard, as they were not in a position to give an opinion.

"This is not rocket science," Justice Miller said. "These people are qualified. They run the pound . . . this just doesn't get off the ground."

Justice Miller addressed Mr Evans after hearing submissions from Mr Slater and the council's lawyer, Richard Cunliffe.

He said the law had been tightened in 2003 after a spate of dog attacks and left little room for manoeuvre.

"I can see the dog is loyal to you, and you are loyal to the dog, and that you feel the consequences are for something that was not the dog's fault," he said. "I understand why you have resisted this prosecution and brought this appeal and in a sense you can be commended for that."

However, Justice Miller said Kaya was going to be destroyed and there was nothing further Mr Evans could do.

It did not matter whether Kaya's actions were protective or reasonable from the point of view of dog psychology, one bite was enough to convict her, he said.

"One bite is all it takes. It is tough on the dog and tough on the owner, but the consequence is really straightforward. Your dog is going to be destroyed, and that is my decision. The appeal is dismissed."

Lakes environmental regulatory and corporate manager Lee Webster said keeping Kaya in the pound since February had cost Queenstown-Lakes ratepayers $9590.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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