There have been more than 320 dog attacks on people in Auckland in the past six months.
New figures confirmed by the Auckland Council in the wake of publicity over the attack on a 3-year-old boy in West Auckland last month show just how large the problem is.
Oracle Brampton was bitten by a stranger's dog outside a Video Ezy store in Henderson. The attack was caught on security camera. He suffered serious facial injuries. He is still on antibiotics, which appear to be keeping back infection, but his family are planning a protest march to object to what they say is slow council action on the offending dog. They claim it could take six months for the process to finish.
Toby Conway owns the 10-year-old Staffordshire terrier cross, Stan, who was left unleashed outside the store. Conway is pleading for leniency. He has been told not to take the dog out in public.
A council spokesman this week said dogs were not automatically put down.
Most dog bite investigations took four to six weeks. A decision would then be made on enforcement action and there could be delays in the court process.
The spokesman also revealed that in the last six months there have been 68 dog bite incidents on people recorded in the former Waitakere city area, 83 in central Auckland, 121 in Manukay and 56 in the former North Shore and Rodney council areas.
Oracle's story prompted more 20 letters to the editor from members of the public, including one woman who said she cried and others who relived similar experiences.
Some could not believe Stan had not been put down. However, a large number of writers blamed Oracle's family for allowing the child to pat a stranger's dog.
Oracle's grandmother, Moana Wepiha-Reo, said she was upset that some people felt her grandson was to blame. She said the dog was not tied up and was lying across the shop's doorway. She asked whether the shopping area was "meant for dogs or human beings?"
She said she and Oracle's mum were just steps behind Oracle and his sister when they crouched down to pat the dog.
Wepiha-Reo said a council worker came to their home on Monday to take statements and remarked it could take longer than six months for the matter to be dealt with by the court. So she was organising a march but was yet to choose a date. She did not want it to happen to anyone else.