Fight over dog cost ratepayers $65,000

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 14:00 12/12/2012
Kaya the dog
SUPPLIED/Fairfax NZ
COURT COSTS: Kaya, a pit-bull cross bitch, cost Queenstown ratepayers almost $65,000 after her owner tried to save her from a court-ordered death sentence related to an attack on a maltese terrier, Raffy, in the resort in February.

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The litigious owner of a menacing Queenstown dog cost resort ratepayers $55,000 in legal fees while his efforts to save the pit-bull cross bitch from death row were funded by legal aid.

To add to the ratepayer tab, keeping the dog in a pound after the attack cost another $9590.

The case of Kaya, a solidly muscled cross-breed, was brought before the Queenstown District Court in August, when she was ordered to be put down after attacking Raffy, a maltese terrier, in February.

However, Kaya's owner, Queenstown builder Karl Evans embarked on a publicly funded court crusade to stay the death sentence - the first time a court had ordered the destruction of a dog in Queenstown.

Through his legal aid-supplied lawyer David Slater, Mr Evans appealed in the High Court, arguing "exceptional circumstances" surrounded the attack.

The case, heard in Invercargill, was thrown out by Justice Miller, and Kaya's execution order upheld, with the judge saying dog psychology did not alter a "straightforward" circumstance of dog mauling. Kaya was put down on November 7, the day after the High Court hearing.

However, Queenstown Lakes District Council corporate and regulatory manager Roger Taylor revealed yesterday that Evans' futile bid to save Kaya cost ratepayers $55,000 in legal bills.

"Our initial estimate of the costs associated with this dangerous dog case, which was $35,000, increased because of the High Court action taken by its owner," he said.

"There is no option of backing out of jurisdictional action, and the sad fact of the matter was that the defendant's costs were covered by legal aid, while this action cost Queenstown ratepayers $55,000."

The attack happened when Raffy was being walked by his owner and Kaya rushed out from Mr Evans' property.

Kaya dragged the much smaller dog up a driveway, but was eventually pulled off by Evans.

When Raffy's shocked owner asked why Kaya was not on a lead or muzzled, Evans responded with: "Your dog looks like a rabbit."

Raffy's owner told the court Evans then said "as long as your f...... rabbit dog" walked near his house, Kaya would attack.

Legal Services Agency director Michele McCreadie yesterday confirmed Mr Evans had received a total of $2233 of legal aid for court representation.

Mr Evans could not be contacted for comment.

Lakes Environmental regulatory and corporate manager Lee Webster said the number of dog attacks in the district, which included dog on dog, dog on other animal, and dog on human attacks, was down on last year.

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