Council seizes dogs after attack

By Peter de Graaf

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Three dogs have been impounded following an attack in Kaitaia which left a 31-year-old man with bite wounds to his back, legs and feet.

Two cross-breeds thought to have been involved in the attack were impounded when Far North District Council animal control officers visited a Kaitaia address yesterday, the same day a district-wide crackdown on unregistered dogs began. Another dog was surrendered at the same property last week following house-to-house checks in the area. Council staff suspect a fourth dog has been taken out of the area.

The attack occurred on a walkway between Allen Bell Drive and Parkdale Reserve at 9.10am last Tuesday. The victim was initially treated by a GP but taken to Kaitaia Hospital when his wounds were still bleeding later that day. The victim's sister, who did not want to be named, said her brother was on antibiotics but on the mend.

"He's six foot, so he's not a little chap. If the dogs can take him on, they could make a meal out of a little child or an elderly person."

The woman said she had noticed a drop in the number of elderly people walking their dogs in the reserve in recent months, and suspected it was because they were afraid of being attacked.

She was pleased with the council's action and would reassure her family it was safe to go back to the park.

"I don't blame the dogs. They do what the owner lets them do."

A council spokesman said the impounded dogs' fate had yet to be decided. Staff would ask the victim what action he wanted taken against their owner.

The attack came less than a week before the council started a crackdown on unregistered dogs. About 9500 dogs are registered in the Far North each year but the council thinks there could be twice that number in the district.

As well as the usual checks to make sure dog owners renew their registrations each July, animal control officers will this year go house-to-house looking for dogs that have never been registered.

The fine is $300 for every dog unregistered after September 1. Dogs still unregistered at the end of October may be impounded.

Compliance manager Barry Webb said registration made it easier for the council to hold owners responsible if their dogs strayed or attacked other animals or people.

"The prime intention is to improve public safety by reducing incidents of attacks and problems which evolve from unregistered and straying dogs," he said.

The crackdown would also mean animal control costs were spread more fairly, instead of falling on responsible dog owners. It would initially increase council overheads but would raise registration income and cut the costs of enforcement, monitoring and investigations in the long term.

The crackdown started on July 1 and would continue until late in the year. House-to-house visits would start in urban areas and target rural households later.

- Northern Advocate

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