Owners plea to keep dogs

By Sophie Price Sophie.price@hbtoday.co.nz

3 comments
Belinda Vearer and Kayla Bremner at the Hastings District Council.
Belinda Vearer and Kayla Bremner at the Hastings District Council.

The owners of the animals involved in two dog attacks last year made an emotional plea to council to keep their remaining two terriers.

Yesterday mother and daughter Belinda Vearer and Kayla Bremner asked the council's hearings committee to overturn a council decision which prevented them from owning dogs for five and two years respectively.

The ruling was made following two vicious dog attacks their animals were involved in on Whirinaki Beach last October which put two women in hospital.

While Ms Vearer surrendered her dog to council immediately after the attack, her daughter took the fight to court to save her Rhodesian Ridgeback Rascal, a fight she lost.

Ms Vearer was found guilty of owning a dog responsible for causing injury and sentenced to 150 hours community work, Ms Bremner was convicted of owning a dog that rushes to a person causing injury and fined $1500.

Through tears the mother and daughter asked the council's hearings committee for Victor, a 10-year-old Chinese Crested and Lola a Shih Tzu Bichon cross - both lap dogs - to remain with them.

Victor had been with the family since he was a puppy and Lola a more recent adoption.
Both women said they had a long history of working with rescue animals - with dog trainers, behaviorists, animal welfare agencies and pet shops.

"This has been really emotional for me," Ms Vearer said said.

"I have a very strong love of animals and have always been responsible with them."
The council's Animal Management Manager John Payne said he could see why the situation had come to this and that was a lack of understanding of the true nature of dogs.

"I am surprised with the involvement of trainers and behaviorists that we are still at that point," he said.

Ms Bremner said the dogs were more than pets, they were a part of their family, explaining the children have a really close bond with the animals.

"One of my daughter's first words was 'Lola'," she said.

She said they still don't understand why the dogs have not come home.

Ms Bremner said the "incident" had been a shock to the whole family and she now understood that any dog could bite.

"I have always thought that a dog wouldn't attack someone unless it was attacked or abused or chained," she said.

"It is not just abused mistreated dogs that can bite.

"It just goes to show that you can take all the steps and accidents still happen."

Ms Bremner said she understood that it was their responsibility to keep the public safe, that if the dogs had shown any signs of aggression they wouldn't have stayed.

"Nothing can compare to what the victims have gone through and we are remorseful and sorry," she said.

"[But] We didn't know those dogs on that day we knew the lovely dogs that grew up with the kids."

Ms Vearer said the attack broke her trust, that a dog she owned could hurt somebody.
Ms Bremner said as a result of the attack her family had been abused by
"people who don't know us or our circumstance".

"Our children have put up with a lot of abuse from neighbours."

Ms Vearer told the committee she did not want any other dogs, just the chance to keep the ones she had.

Ms Bremner said she did not want her kids to suffer further by losing the Victor and Lola.
The hearing committee chair Councillor Mick Lester said his decision on the matter would be delivered tomorrow.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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