Criticism of pitbulls 'kneejerk'

By Sandra Conchie


A pitbull attack on a 3-year-old boy at a Matapihi property has sparked heated debate about whether the breed is dangerous.

The Bay of Plenty Times Facebook page has been inundated with comments over who was at fault - the dog or the adults on the property.

The dog attacked the Hastings boy at a Waikari Rd property about 8.40am on Thursday. He was playing in the yard in which the dog was secured on a chain.

The boy, who sustained facial injuries, was discharged from Tauranga Hospital yesterday, a hospital spokesperson confirmed.

American Pit Bull Terrier Association spokeswoman Karen Batchelor described negative comments about pit bulls as knee-jerk reactions from ill-informed "so-called experts".

Ms Batchelor said international research by the American Temperament Test Society showed pitbulls ranked highly in temperament tests with 84-85 per cent pass rates.

International research also showed any chained dog was three times more likely to attack than a house dog and five more times likely to attack children, particularly when unsupervised.

"There is no excuse for this but to blame this breed is utter nonsense, as it is always. The responsibility of the two-legged end of the leash," she said.

Ms Batchelor said pitbulls had suffered years of unwarranted bad press as there was many other reported cases of attacks by other breeds that had not received the same level of attention.

"Pitbulls are no different than any other dog. Every dog needs to be socialised, trained and restrained," she said.

Bellevue resident Amy Glasgow, 25, also defended the breed. Ms Glasglow, who owns a pure bred red-nosed pitbull, said she did not believe pitbulls were dangerous.

"To blame the dog is unfair. It's not a dog problem and the focus should be on the owner's actions. These type of attacks happen when a dog is not properly trained or supervised, especially around young children," she said.

Inspector Karl Wright St-Clair said the dog that attacked the boy was seized by Tauranga City Council animal control staff and remained in the local pound pending completion of the police investigation.

Mr Wright St-Clair said police had spoken with neighbours and witnesses about the incident and were working closely with council's animal services team on the investigation.

Police would be in a better position early next week to assess the evidence in relation to any possible charges under the Dog Control Act. "We are yet to receive any medical information and we still need to speak to some other people about this matter," he said.

The boy's family has declined a request by this newspaper for an interview.

Among more than 50 comments on Bay of Plenty Times Facebook page, one woman wrote "no dog is born bad but different breeds have different inbuilt issues" while another questioned "where was the parents or minder of the child?".

- Bay of Plenty Times

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