Dog attacks are uncommon in our area but a dog-on-dog attack that took place recently near Waipu has left Auckland visitors looking for accountability by reckless owners, and more help from animal control agencies.
Aucklander Leigh Gordon, her husband, 10-year-old son, and Bluey their West Highland Terrier had recently completed the coastal walk from Waipu Cove when a large chained dog lunged at them as they passed a property along Cove Rd, Waipu.
Frightened, the family crossed the road but then a female dog came through the open gate of the property and attacked their little dog. The terrier became locked in its mouth and when it tried to escape the dog ran across the road and attacked him once more.
“I cannot explain strongly enough the absolute terror and fear faced by our family,” said Ms Gordon. “Eventually the owner of the dog came out and called his dog inside. Thankfully the owners of a neighbouring property came running out and drove us back to our car where we then immediately took our dog to the vet in Waipu. Our dog was bleeding and we could see open bite marks. At this time we were not sure if his leg had been broken or if he had suffered internal injuries.”
Ms Gordon called Animal Control and a representative visited their rented holiday accommodation in Ruakaka taking photos and a statement of events.
“We were assured the dog would be removed from the property the following day.”
The day after the attack the family visited the dog owner who was very apologetic for the attack and promised to pay the vet bill. However, to date this has not happened.
Adding further anguish is the fact that the attacking dog was not impounded, says Ms Gordon.
“It does not need to be a specific attack to warrant investigation by ENL,” explains Keith Thompson, manager of Environmental Northland Ltd, the dog control unit for Whangarei District Council. “Any dog that makes a provocative move, or a lunge towards a person is potentially a menace for whatever reason and therefore the dog and the owner may come under investigation if there is a complaint. It may turn out not to be serious but may still warrant looking into. In this case we acknowledge that the terrier owner, her son and husband were traumatised by this event and Ms Gordon, very bravely, spoke to the owner of the dog in question. They had a civil conversation. Fortunately the terrier was not as badly injured as was originally thought.”
Mr Thompson said when Ms Gordon contacted ENL with her version of the incident she stated she did not want to charge the owner, just have her vet fees paid. The offending dog owner had already agreed to this and it seemed the matter would go no further. After an ENL officer spoke to the owner regarding his obligations as a dog owner, the matter was then considered to be between the dog owner and Ms Gordon regarding payment of vet fees.
Ms Gordon, though, is disappointed that the authorities have not brought the matter to a satisfactory conclusion by not holding the dog owner accountable after admitting liability.
“Physically my dog has recovered but will never be the same dog again. My son has witnessed a horrendous event which no ten-year-old should have to go through. This is not about the money although I feel for a family who may not be in a situation to pay a hefty vet bill. This is about an owner taking responsibility for their vicious dog’s actions.”
n At the time of print The Focus has heard Whangarei District Council have offered to pay Bluey’s vet bill, and the other dog owner has left the district.
TRAUMATIC: Terrier Bluey, attacked by a large dog, pictured after vet care.