Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Dog that sank teeth into nurse to be destroyed

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A Tauranga community magistrate has ordered a dog to be destroyed after it savaged a district nurse visiting a property, who required hospital treatment for serious wounds to her leg.

During an emotionally-charged hearing in the Tauranga District Court yesterday, Community Magistrate Lesley Jensen delivered her reserved judgement as to the fate of the dog to its owners.

At the conclusion of a defending hearing on January 28 this year, Mrs Jensen said she found Nicholas Epiha guilty of a charge of being the owner of a dog which attacks a person.

There is a real risk this dog will attack again, and I am ordering its destruction.
Lesley Jensen, community magistrate

Mr Epiha was fined $200, plus $130 court costs and ordered to pay $200 reparation.

His sister Natasha Epiha, who owns the dog, was found not guilty of the same charge.

Mrs Jensen said after considering all circumstances of the attack, submissions from the Epihas, and looking at the past history of the dog she found no exceptional circumstances which warranted the dog being spared.

She outlined what factors she had taken into account in reaching her decisions.

Mrs Jensen said on August 7 last year, the dog had been tethered to a fence by Mr Epiha, who was awaiting a pre-arranged visit from the district nurse to his sister's Gravatt Rd, Papamoa property.

As the victim walked passed, the 9-year-old Labrador Retriever Shar Pei Cross attacked her from behind, biting her on the rear of the thigh and holding on.

It would not let go until Mr Epiha, hearing the victim's screams, came to her aid, the court was told.

Mrs Jensen said the attack resulted in three deep punctures wound to the victim's leg and significant bruising and required five stitches and the victim had to take five days off work.

She noted that the dog had been subject to an abatement order for excessive barking and banned from visiting the Gravatt Rd property.

Mrs Jensen said she also had taken into account that there had been a previous incident of the same dog jumping the fence and attacking a passing dog.

In her written submissions Natasha Epiha stated she had given her brother permission to walk the dog, but had been unaware that it had been taken to the property and tethered in the way it was.

She implored the court to find special circumstances.

Mrs Jensen said she recognised that the dog was considered a beloved, prized family member and companion by the Epihas.

"As a community magistrate I must apply the law. The law says the court must order the destruction of the dog unless it is satisfied the circumstances of the attack were exceptional."

Mrs Jensen said she was satisfied there was nothing exceptional about this attack.

"There is a real risk this dog will attack again, and I am ordering its destruction."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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