Dog attacks have left a lasting impact on a number of Bay families, not least Mount Maunganui couple Dave and Margaret McLennan who lost their beloved pet DJ late last year.

Figures have revealed in Tauranga city dogs have attacked people 33 times and other animals 52 times in the past six months.

Across the Western Bay region there were 97 attacks on people and 223 on animals in the 2014/2015 financial year - that is 25 more than the previous 12 months.

That included an horrific attack on November 6 which caused fatal injuries to the McLennans' 14-year-old bichon as well as injuring Mr McLennan.

I can be outside walking anywhere and I can still see my husband trying to get DJ out of the other dog's mouth and hear our poor little DJ's screams. It was just terrible.


The 73-year-old and his wife Margaret, 80, were heading along Grenada St on their daily walk when the roaming bull terrier set its sights on DJ.

Mr McLennan fought for 10 minutes to wrestle DJ from the dog's jaws and his injuries included severed tendons in his fingers, plus scratches and grazes to his arms and legs.

DJ had to be put down.

Mrs McLennan told the Bay of Plenty Times the attack had deeply affected them.

"I still get upset just talking about it. I can't even walk in the area where little DJ was attacked. I have to cross over to the other side of the road and don't look until I've passed the area.

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"I can be outside walking anywhere and I can still see my husband trying to get DJ out of the other dog's mouth and hear our poor little DJ's screams. It was just terrible.

"Dave is healed physically except for the big finger on his right hand which had a chip off the bone. The doctors told us there was nothing they could do, other than keep exercising it."

But Mrs McLennan said no money would compensate her and her husband for their loss.

"It's very hard for both of us. I think Dave tries to hide it a bit more than I do, but this is something we will never get over," she said.

The McLennans urged dog owners to ensure they kept tight control over their pets, and to choose breeds that matched their abilities.

"It needs to be the right dog for the right person."

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As at December 31 there were 19,598 dogs registered in the region, of which 306 were classified as menacing and 37 as dangerous.

Tauranga City Council spokesman Brent Lincoln said on average there were fewer than 70 dog attacks on people reported each year.

"The number of attacks on people that are reported to council has remained static, averaging around 68 per year for the last seven years. When taking into account the growth in dog numbers, increasing at an average of 5.5 per cent per year, and combined with the increasing human population, the current attack rate is the lowest on recent record."

In the past three years there were 12 prosecutions by Tauranga City Council for attacks on people.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council spokeswoman Alison Curtis said despite the rising number of people and the number of dogs moving to the district, attack numbers had remained reasonably static over the past few years - less than 30 each year.

"We believe this is a positive trend that suggests the work we are doing with safety and education, as well as enforcement, is working.

"Attacks on other animals in Western Bay are predominantly dogs attacking chickens, with lesser numbers for other stock, dogs and cats."