A man charged after his dog bit a stranger who touched its nose protruding from under his closed front gate has been found guilty.

Des Hughes, 41, was prosecuted by Hastings District Council after his family dog, Franklin, bit a stranger on May 31 last year.

The dog had only its nose jutting out from under the gate, which was set back from the footpath, when the bite occurred.

The 51-year-old male victim had the tip of his left thumb bitten off in the incident.


Judge Geoff Rea released a reserved decision last week after a trial in which Hughes defended a charge of owning a dog that attacked. Evidence hinged on whether the labrador was deemed to be "under control" at the time.

In his decision, Judge Rea said that as the dog could get its muzzle and paws under the gate, it was not "confined" in the way the legislation required. "In my view the requirements to confine the dog must mean all of the dog," Judge Rea said.

After the incident the 5-year-old dog was impounded by dog control officers. It was destroyed with the family's consent after five months of being locked up.

Mr Hughes told Hawke's Bay Today he agreed to euthanise the dog as it was "going mad" in the pound.

"It's taken a real toll on us. We were shocked to get prosecuted for a start. We've lost our dog - a dog I believe was provoked and attacked by this guy. We did everything right with Franklin. He was vaccinated, neutered, registered, well cared for and kept inside a secure, fenced enclosure."

While his dog was impounded, he was told by council the dog's registration was due. "I asked them if I had to pay it given he was in the pound - they said I must, so I did. A few weeks later he was put down and I was told I didn't get my registration money back in that scenario."