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Missing dog gets death sentence

A judge has ordered the destruction of a dog that attacked an elderly border collie last year.

Only problem is, nobody knows where it is.

The pitbull cross, named Mister, was stolen from the Carterton pound in March last year, where it was being held after the February attack.

On Friday at Masterton District Court, Judge Barbara Morris, charged the dog’s owner Lisa Browne, retired, with owning a dog that attacked another dog.

As well as fining Browne nearly $800, she ordered Mister be destroyed.

Speaking after the court case, Carterton District Council animal and dog control officer Karen Schischka said the dog had been stolen nearly a year ago but if it came to their attention it would be “seized immediately”.

“I have put it on the national dog database … it’s logged as being stolen. If it turns up in another town for some reason or for registration, then there will be a red flag on it.”

Yesterday the court heard how Millie, a border collie around the age of 10, had been playing fetch beside the Waiohine River when she was bitten and held around the neck by Mister.

The attack caused a puncture wound and swelling around Millie’s neck.

Mister should have been muzzled at the time, due to its classification as a menacing dog.

The classification is given to dogs such as Mister which are registered as American pitbull crosses.

It is a classification Ms Schischka said was important.

“Dogs are either classified menacing by breed or by deed, he was by breed”.

Browne had a previous infringement for not having the dog muzzled.

Speaking after the case, Millie’s owner Jan Farr said her dog was in a terrible state after the attack.

“She was unconscious . . . she was covered in blood.”

“At one stage I thought she was dead.”

It was the most horrible experience, she said.

“I couldn’t put her collar on for ages because her neck was so swollen.”

She said she was shocked and amazed the court process had taken so long.

After considering expert witness testimony Judge Morris brought the court battle to an end.

She said it was clear the situation was not play fighting, or a case of Mister protecting its owner.

“[I] find on the evidence that the dog Millie was in a grave danger of asphyxiation.”

Lawyer Steve Taylor, acting on behalf of the council, said the “offence was preventable had the dog been muzzled”.

Defence lawyer Ian Hard had maintained during the case that the situation had evolved from natural hierarchical dog behaviour and was exacerbated by poor intervention – which included a rock thrown at  Mister’s muzzle during the attack.

Browne was ordered to pay $324.80 of vet bills, $130 court costs and fined $300.

Ms Schischka said she was pleased with the court’s decision.

“It was the result that we wanted.

“It is important for the public to see in Carterton, yes we do prosecute but we need the evidence and we need the witnesses.

“In this case, we had really reliable good witnesses and we had the evidence.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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