Fears for kids after attacks

By Chloe Johnson

Denise Manks with Samantha, left, and Bonnie. Photo / APN
Denise Manks with Samantha, left, and Bonnie. Photo / APN

A dog lover has told how she fears for her grandchildren after first one of her pet dogs, then another was mauled by a neighbour's pack of American pitbulls.

Nurse Denise Manks arrived home from picking up her grandchildren from daycare to find three pitbulls mauling Brownie, a 1-year-old puppy.

"His face was a mess, it was all bitten up," she said. "He had holes right through the top of his legs, there were bits missing."

Brownie died at the vet. Authorities were unable to destroy next door neighbour Monty Corbett's pitbulls because Manks could not prove which dogs were responsible.

Terrified of another attack and not being able to identify the dogs again, Manks installed a surveillance camera worth $5500 and raised her Rotorua fence from 180cm to 240cm.

Then on May 18, Manks arrived home to find her driveway covered in blood and 14-year-old labrador Bonnie seriously injured, shaking on her back doorstep.

"I thought my son had been playing with oil because there was stuff all over my concrete," she said.

"I didn't realise it was all blood, and it wasn't until I walked around the corner I saw Bonnie and she was dripping with blood."

Corbett immediately confessed that "my bitch" had attacked Bonnie. But it wasn't until authorities looked at Manks' surveillance footage that they saw three pitbulls had jumped over her fence and cornered Bonnie before viciously attacking her for 10 minutes.

The vets thought she would die. "One of her ears was nearly off and she had lots of puncture wounds all around her face and on her other ear, her neck, she had holes in her front legs," Manks said. "The only reason she survived is because she had blood transfusions."

The three pitbulls, the female Visa and males Bronx and Gza, were immediately destroyed.

This week, Corbett was banned from owning dogs for the next five years. He was fined $850 and ordered to pay reparation of $1065.

But Manks remains afraid for her two surviving dogs' safety and keeps them locked indoors.

"Even though I know the dogs are destroyed I come home wondering what's going to be there," she said.

Bonnie wet herself when she heard other dogs bark.

"She's psychologically damaged," Manks said. "Sure he [Corbett] will eventually pay me the money, big deal, that doesn't change the fact that financially I'm struggling, I've lost a dog, I've got dogs which don't act totally normal now and I always worry."

Yesterday, Corbett claimed Bronx, Gza and Visa were only trying to seek revenge after one of Manks' dogs menaced them as puppies.

He believed Visa, who had previously been attacked by other dogs, would have led the way into the neighbouring property. Corbett said he was a good owner who spent up to four hours a day walking, playing with, feeding and training his dogs.

"I'm very sad about it because I used to put a lot of effort in training and caring for them. I even took them to the pitbull shows. They've won heaps of first places.

"I'd like to say I'm very sorry to her and the family and it will never happen again. I'm bumming out about my own dogs because they were so good but I feel for her dog too."

Fighting dog banned

A Spanish fighting dog has joined the American pitbull on the shortlist of banned breeds.

The Perro de Presa Canario has been prohibited from being imported under the Dog Control Act 1996, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide announced this week.

There are no known Perro de Presa Canario in the country at the moment.

A Department of Internal Affairs report has revealed 7297 dogs in New Zealand were classified last year as menacing (posing a threat to people and animals) and 645 as dangerous (has been aggressive or attacked).

The American pitbull sat at the top of both lists with 77 per cent classified as menacing and 1.9 per cent as dangerous.

- Herald on Sunday

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