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Region shows its ruff side


94 dog attacks – zero prosecutions
Kids at risk if left alone with dogs

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Twenty-six animals were killed by man’s best friend in Wairarapa last year – and 29 people attacked – according to 2018 figures released by Wairarapa’s three district councils under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

While there were 94 recorded dog attacks reported in the region, similar to Wellington City’s numbers, no dog owners were prosecuted.

The human victims ranged in age from 12 to people in their 80s and 90s, with 15 seeking medical attention.

Sheep, lambs, chickens, rabbits, cats, ducks, a guinea pig, and even a couple of dogs died as a result of maulings.

While there were no prosecutions, 12 dogs were euthanised and 25 were classified either dangerous or menacing as a result of attacks.

Masterton had the most incidents – 59 – with 20 attacks on people including elderly, 21 on dogs [one killed], five on cats [four killed], and 13, some fatal, on other animals counting an alpaca.

One of Carterton’s reported 16 attacks happened at a boarding kennel where a dog killed another dog.

The offending dog’s owner and the boarding kennel manager were each given a verbal warning from the Carterton District Council.

Four Carterton reports involved people being bitten, with one victim requiring a tetanus shot.

In another case where the victim suffered “superficial bites”, the owner was fined for failing to muzzle their dog which was already classified menacing, and it was subsequently put down.

In separate instances in which a cat and rabbit were killed in Carterton, the dog owners surrendered their pets to be euthanised.

In South Wairarapa, 19 attacks, including seven fatal attacks on animals, were reported.

Four people were attacked by dogs in Featherston and one person was attacked in Greytown, resulting in two of the offending animals being put down at the owners’ request.

All wounds received were to the victims’ legs.

Martinborough had four incidents which resulted in the deaths of 20 lambs, 10 sheep, and six chickens.

In the case of the lambs attacked, the stock owner shot the dog on site.

No offending dogs were identified in the two attacks on sheep, and the owner of the dog that killed the chickens was infringed.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association website describes dog ownership as a privilege which carries with it responsibilities.

“To avoid dogs having a negative impact on other people, animals and the environment, an owner must . . . not allow dogs to stray, keep dogs under control in public areas by having them on a leash, ensure dogs do not predate on other animals or birds, [and] ensure dogs are safe to be in the community.”

What to look out for

Vetcare director Heidi Ward-McGrath said dogs that were more likely to attack were male, unsocialised, unnurtured, and left in confined spaces or chained up.

An emergency vet for 20 years, she said she dealt with animals attacked by dogs on a weekly basis, with injuries including “eyelids torn off and eye sockets chewed”.

Ward-McGrath, who educates school children about dog safety, said children aged five to nine were the largest demographic to be attacked by dogs.

Children were usually bitten on their face, heads, and necks, while dogs tended to target adults’ arms and legs.

Children aged five and under who were attacked were usually done so by a dog known to them.

She said no child should ever be left alone with a dog and certainly never with those deemed dangerous by breed.

Adults needed to remain vigilant when young children were around larger dog breeds that had the ability to cause serious harm.

Ward-McGrath said it was important to socialise dogs and utilise puppy pre-schools.



  1. I believe all puppies are born equal. (This can’t refer to some births, that are controlled by mongrel humans.)
    What puppies become depends on upbringing and education. Just like people. Problem dogs generally have problem owners. It is a pity that dogs get into trouble because of stupid people.

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