Rachel Grunwell

Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Two kids mauled by dogs in separate incidents

Three-year-old Oracle Brampton. Photo / Supplied
Three-year-old Oracle Brampton. Photo / Supplied

A 3-year-old-boy was savaged by a stranger's dog as he patted it outside a video store.

Oracle Brampton had a hole in his cheek big enough to put a finger through after the incident in West Auckland.

The owner has apologised and pleaded with authorities not to kill his "best friend".

It was one of two attacks by apparently docile dogs a few days apart, prompting campaigners to call for compulsory registration of owners.

In the second incident, Cameron Pita, 9, from Palmerston North, needed 88 stitches after being attacked by a friend's family pet. The owners surrendered the animal so it could be put down.

Oracle was taken to hospital by ambulance after being bitten by a Staffordshire terrier cross outside Video Ezy on Lincoln Rd, Henderson, on March 16.

He was sedated for three hours while doctors washed his injuries with saline and gave him nine stitches. A doctor told the family the bite narrowly missed an artery.

Police attended the 111 emergency, but referred the matter to Auckland Council dog control officers, who told the family it could take six months to determine the animal's fate.

Asked if they had taken steps to ensure public safety in the meantime, such as muzzling the animal, the council did not respond.

Oracle's family fears his face could be disfigured. His wounded right cheek is starting to go numb and an infection is spreading.

He will return to Waitakere Hospital today and could face more surgery if a second round of antibiotics fails.

His mother, Athena Wepiha-Reo, and nana, Moana Wepiha-Reo, said they took Oracle and his three siblings to the video store for a PlayStation game as a treat for being good. But the outing ended in horror when Oracle and his sister Nataliyah, 9, went to pat the dog as it lay in the shop doorway.

Security camera footage shows a girl patting the dog seconds earlier without problem.

When Oracle and his sister bent down to pat it, the animal attacked. The owner ran out of the shop, grabbed his dog and fled.

"Oracle was screaming and holding his face and everyone else around him was screaming at the blood pouring out," said Moana. Video store owner Jay Patel said the video footage showed that "the dog just lunged".

Athena almost fainted at the sight of her bloodied son, but held him and applied pressure to the wounds, until the ambulance arrived.

Athena said she was overcome with emotion in the hospital and unable to watch her "baby" getting treatment. Oracle's nana held his hand while he was sedated.

"I'm pretty strong and I can handle some stuff. But it was a horrific thing to watch a child go through," said Moana.

"My grandson had tears rolling down ... I held his hand to calm him, while his mum was bawling her eyes out."

Waitakere area police commander Inspector Gary Davey said the matter was referred to the council because the dog and its owner had left by the time officers arrived.

He said it was important to let the council investigate thoroughly but he considered the case serious.

The dog's owner, 29-year-old film and TV cameraman Toby Conway, said he had run away because the scene was emotionally charged.

He had no idea the injuries were so bad and pleaded with the authorities not to put down Stan, the dog he got as a puppy 10 years ago.

Conway said he thought the boy must have frightened his dog.

"To the family I want to give my utmost condolences and I'm really upset.

"Please don't make me kill my best mate."

Oracle is still having nightmares about the attack but has been given his uncle's puppy to help him overcome his new fear of big dogs.

- Herald on Sunday

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