Health worker attacked by dogs

By Mike Dinsdale

A mental health worker is recovering in hospital after at least two operations to treat injuries received when she was attacked by two dogs while visiting a client in Whangarei.

The mental health worker, employed by the Northland District Health Board (NDHB), was attacked while visiting a client on Hatea Drive, Whangarei.

The two dogs believed to be involved in the attack just before 11am last Tuesday have now been seized by Whangarei District Council contractors, with one euthanised shortly afterwards and the second in the Whangarei Dog Pound after being picked up by Environmental Northland staff, supported by police, yesterday.

The Northern Advocate understands that as the woman knocked on the door of the Hatea Drive home to see her client, a dog came running straight at her through the open door and attacked.

A Whangarei District Council spokeswoman said it was initially believed only one dog was involved but after interviewing witnesses it became clear two dogs had bitten her.

Animal control staff were called to the scene by police, who were called by neighbours who witnessed the attack.

The woman is understood to have been savaged about the head and upper body, including puncture wounds to her neck.

The owner of the dogs is believed to have jumped on top of the woman to try to prevent further injuries.

Neighbours then came to help and police were called.

The owner surrendered a dog to Environmental Northland staff, who carry out animal control work for the council.

The dog was euthanised the same day by a veterinarian at the dog pound in Kioreroa Rd.

It is not known if the owner of the dogs received any injuries in the attack.

However, after interviews were conducted with the woman and witnesses it was confirmed that two dogs were involved in the attack and the second dog was seized yesterday as the owner was walking it near Mair Park.

One of the dogs was believed to be a mastiff cross while the breed of the other dog is not known. At this stage no charges have been laid against the dog owner, but the matter is being investigated.

The attacked woman is understood to have gone through two operations to repair the damage caused by the dogs.

The council's dog control staff are understood to have had dealings with the owner of the two dogs on earlier occasions.

NDHB chief executive Nick Chamberlain said the health board was supporting the mental health worker and wished her a speedy recovery from what has been an extremely traumatic experience.

"I am extremely saddened that one of our valued staff has been badly hurt in an incident that should not have happened," Dr Chamberlain said.

"Many of our staff are providing care for patients in their homes and the community, and it is essential that they are safe to go about their duties without fear of being harmed."

- Northern Advocate

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