Splitz's owners say killer must pay
A Hamilton family whose chihuahua was killed by a neighbour's unregistered American pitbull terrier is stunned the dog was released back to the owner the day after the attack and is calling for it to be put down.
The pitbull's wheelchair-bound owner, Adrian Goulding, is now scared of what might happen to his only companion.
Not even a brick to the head of the pitbull - which is one of four breeds banned from importation to New Zealand - could stop it from mauling the Farrell and Evans' family dog on March 21.
The chihuahua dog, Splitz, whose lung and heart were punctured in the attack, had to be put down later that night.
The Enderley family are still distressed about the death of the pooch, who was adopted about seven years ago, and is demanding Hamilton City Council take action.
The attack comes after two recent ones in where children were mauled by dogs in both Tauranga and Murupara - one critically.
"She was a big part of my life and the family's," said Madison Farrell, 16, the dog's main carer.
"The dog should have been put down - it's a danger."
Mum Tracey Evans witnessed the attack and said she was still "traumatised".
She was on the living room couch about 5.30pm on March 21 when, through the french doors, she saw her neighbour's pitbull run along her deck with Splitz in her mouth.
"Then I started to see her absolutely shake her and maul her," she said.
"So I ran out, sat on it, and started hitting it on the head with a brick we had near the clothesline, but I couldn't get it to let her go."
While trying to free Splitz from the pitbull's jaws, she said she was bitten and left with a cut to her finger.
The pitbull, seizing the chance to escape, dashed through her yard and down their long driveway with the chihuahua in its mouth.
At the roadside, it continued to attack the small dog.
A short time later, a passing motorist pulled over and, with Goulding, managed to free Splitz. But the wounds were too severe and Splitz had to be put down.
Goulding accepted full responsibility for the attack but still has no idea how his dog could have got out of its enclosure.
Goulding is a paraplegic and is scared of what might happen to his only companion.
He said he was lying on his bed when he heard the commotion and climbed onto his wheelchair to see what was going on.
He lived in the house for three years and had 2 metre high fences built to keep his dog secure and was shocked to see the gate open.
"All I heard was this screaming. I came out and it's like, ‘oh, that's my dog' and I came down this ramp and I saw this (gate) open."
He said the gate was secure and the rope that hung on the outside of the fence had to be pulled for it to open.
He offered to pay for the vet bill before Evans took her dog away on the night and said all he could do was reimburse the family for their financial loss. But he said Evans threw a handwritten letter and a vets invoice on the ground demanding immediate payment or court proceedings would follow.
"I'm still feeling really bad about what happened to her dog."
Evans said her dog's death and the council's apparent lack of action has left her "absolutely disgusted".
But the council's animal and education control manager, Fiona Sutton, said she was confident her team had acted appropriately. She said the pitbull was seized and impounded following the attack and the owner was required to pay a seizure fee and a higher registration rate before the dog was released.
The council's animal control team is investigating the attack.
The dog still faces the possibility of being put down if the owner is prosecuted.
The Dog Control Act bans the importation of American pitbull terriers, along with Dogo Argentino, Brazilian Fila, and Japanese Tosa breeds. The law also requires councils classify those dogs as "menacing" and be muzzled when in public places. The council's bylaws require menacing dogs to be microchipped, neutered and muzzled as well as kept on a leash in public places.