Annemarie Quill: Dog ban the only solution

Carolina Anderson after being attacked by a dog when she seven.
Carolina Anderson after being attacked by a dog when she seven.

Would you let your child learn to socialise with a paedophile? How about a serial child killer?

A permission slip comes home from school. The school is holding sessions to "socialise and educate" the children how to act around paedophiles. It is a new in-school programme called PERV.

This is the best way to protect them, parents are told, as "without doubt a child's behaviour can contribute to situations ..."

Despite local councils' attempts to register paedophiles, or stronger measures such as electronic tagging and even proposals such as desexing, the best way for children to protect themselves from paedophiles is for the kids to learn how to recognise them. How to approach them. How to behave with them. Don't, for example, look in their eyes.

Would you sign the permission slip? I sure as hell wouldn't.

I would be breaking down the school gates in protest.

This is a fictional scenario, of course. There is no PERV. There are no school sessions with paedophiles. It would be a ridiculous suggestion.

However, more school sessions "socialising" with other potentially malicious specimens of society are being touted as a way for kids to avoid being maimed or killed by them.

This week the New Zealand Kennel Club said a greater emphasis needed to be placed on socialising dogs and educating young children on how to act around pets. "Without doubt a child's behaviour can contribute to situations where a child gets bitten," the NZ Kennel Club president Clyde Rogers told NZME.

Mr Rogers said educational programmes - such as the in-school programme Bark, which he said was proving effective - needed more resources.

Teaching children how to behave around dogs - any dog - is essential.

Even Great Aunty Joan's chihuahua will leap at your throat if you give it the bad eye. Any dog breed, however seemingly docile, can bite if it fears you, if you do something even unintentionally to hurt it. So teaching children not to approach dogs, and how to pat them, is important. But teaching children how to pat a crocodile is not going to stop their little hands turning into lunch.

Hamilton Zoo keeper Samantha Kudeweh had more than 20 years' experience, loved the animals and had worked with Sumatran tiger Oz on a breeding programme since his arrival at the zoo. But when she found herself last September alone in the enclosure with Oz, the tiger attacked and killed her. Why? That's what tigers do. It is in their DNA.

So it is, in my opinion, with dog breeds that local authorities and experts identify as being dangerous. I agree with Auckland mayoral hopeful Phil Goff, who said this week that education won't be enough to prevent dog attacks and was calling for complete ban of pitbull terriers.

Goff pointed to the fact that the number of dog attacks in January this year were double what they were a couple of years ago, saying "every day there's a couple of hospitalisations caused by dog attacks".

This week Bay of Plenty Times reporter John Cousins spoke to Laurie Anderson, a Katikati pensioner who also wants urgent action to phase out pitbull-type breeds.

This is a man who we should listen to. His only grandchild, Carolina, suffered horrendous facial injuries in a dog attack when she was 7. No amount of dog behaviour lessons could have saved her. She was mauled by an unrestrained American staffy/lab cross as she played in an Auckland park. With one eye hanging out and her nose displaced, father John had to hold her face together on the drive to hospital.


This attack took place in 2003, 13years ago, and since then Mr Anderson has watched with a growing sense of outrage as child after child has suffered similar injuries. Mr Anderson decided to make a public call for the ban to pitbull-type breeds following the recent attack of another 7-year-old in Auckland.

Darnell Minarapa-Brown needed 100 facial stitches after an attack by a pitbull.

Despite "hand-wringing" about attacks, there has been no move to ban dangerous breeds. There is movement, such as Auckland Council's amnesty until the end of June for dog owners of "menacing dogs" which are not registered for 2015/16.

Those who come forward to register their animal for the 2016/17 year can do so for free.

The $300 fine for failing to register a dog will also be waived. On top of registration the council will desex, microchip and provide muzzles for $25.

Western Bay of Plenty animal authorities are considering mandatory neutering of menacing dogs in an effort to help curb dog attacks in the region.

Tauranga City Council is putting its Dog Control Bylaw review out for consultation later this year. Is it enough?

I don't think so. I am so sick that every time there is a dog attack, many people online come out with the same old platitude "it is not the dog, it is the owner".

In my opinion, this is bull.

While owners do play a huge part in a dog's socialisation, some dog breeds are more likely to attack people than most other breeds, including dogs which are automatically classified as menancing upon registration: Brazilian fila, dogo argentino, Japenese tosa, perro de presa canario, and the American pitbull terrier.

They are dangerous animals and when they do attack they effect maximum damage. Like tigers and crocodiles - and maybe even paedophiles - I believe it is in their DNA.

To those who argue that their "beloved" pitbull or Staffy cross is a well-cared for family pet who wouldn't harm a fly, let us remember the four-dog attack on 7-year-old Japanese girl Sakurako Uehara in Murupara in 2014.

Sakurako's "horrific and sustained attack" by four Staffordshire bull terrier-cross dogs at a family friend's home left her with 100 bites to her face, limbs and almost all of her body. Some of her tissue was permanently damaged.

Doctors said it would take time to repair her "ferocious" facial wounds.

I am also sick of people putting dogs before humans. This week the NZ Kennel Club criticised the Auckland Council amnesty as vilifying owners who loved their pets. I would have thought the club would welcome moves to stop dog attacks.

I love my dog. He sleeps on my bed and he shares our roast beef and veges on Sundays. But if he was a death threat to my children, I would not hesitate to shoot him between the eyes.

What is more important, the wishes of owners and breeders of dangerous dogs, or a child's face?

No one would put the wishes of a paedophile over a child.

Mr Anderson urges us to imagine the trauma, the agonies and the worry should a dog attack happen to one of your own children. It doesn't bear imagining, but we must for something to be done. The plea of this Bay grandfather to "please make this stop" must be heard.

In my view, local government legislation still needs to be tightened.

It's time to stop pussyfooting around vicious dogs. If measures to prevent attacks are failing, then breeds identified as menancing should be banned.

Mr Anderson has issued a public appeal for people to contact politicians and ask for urgent action to restrict, eradicate and neuter the dangerous breeds. Here is his public plea: "Unless you, the public, also show your concern, this dreadful danger and attacks will continue. Will you help please? Together we can do it."

Please help him.

It is not the owner.

It is the dog.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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