Pet rabbit the latest victim of savage dog attack

Savage dog attack

Last updated 05:00 24/07/2013

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Waitara man Matt Lee is grateful a stray dog waited until midnight before jumping his fence and ripping his children's pet rabbit apart.

"If it happened during the day the kids would have seen it. They could have tried to help and got their throats ripped out as well," Mr Lee said.

Thankfully Jade Commerer, 6, and her brother Mason Lee, 2, were asleep when the dog destroyed the hutch to get Snowy, the small black rabbit they had looked after for just three months.

It was in the morning when they went out to feed their pet that they saw the carnage of fur and blood.

"I told the kids to get inside. I didn't want them to see that, but they knew what happened," Mr Lee said. "There are dogs on the loose all over the place around here. Now I don't know if I can even let them play outside safely."

Snowy is the latest victim in a string of recent dog attacks in Waitara.

Last month Dave Phelan on Armstrong Ave, just 1800 metres from Mr Lee's Mouatt St property, lost 17 sheep to a rogue dog or dogs. The month before that five sheep were killed at Waitara High School, just across the road from Mr Phelan's property.

New Plymouth District Council animal control officer Jim Aitken said though a number of dogs had been picked up in the area, officers had not been able to ascertain if they had caught the dog or dogs responsible for the sheep attacks.

A dog trap had been set up at the scene of the latest attack in case the dog came back, but Mr Lee said it would be almost impossible to prove it was responsible for the rabbit's death.

If there was proof Mr Aitken said a dog did not have any more "rights" than a chicken, guinea pig, or rabbit and if caught injuring or killing animals or humans would almost always be destroyed.

Under section 57 of the Dog Control Act the dog's owner may also be liable for a fine of up to $3000 and pay for any damage caused by the attack.

Around 800 dogs were impounded in the New Plymouth district last year. Half were unregistered.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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