A toddler is in a satisfactory condition following surgery yesterday after she was attacked by a family dog.

Police say the 18-month-old was playing in her backyard on Porirua's Dorset Grove when the family's pitbull-staffordshire cross launched itself at her. She suffered significant injuries to the right side of her face and stomach.

The dog, on a 5m chain at the time, was seized by council officers shortly after the attack and was due to be put down yesterday. Two other dogs, of similar breed, remained at the property.

Sergeant Cam Taylor said the girl's parents were extremely distressed when he arrived.


"They were very upset. The mother was very shaken up and crying."

A spokeswoman for Hutt Valley District Health Board said the toddler was now in a satisfactory condition and was not in intensive care.

On Wednesday, a 3-year-old boy was badly bitten on the throat by a doberman-staffordshire-bull terrier. On Christmas Day, 15-month-old Ozyris Beeching was savaged by the next door neighbour's pitbull while he played in the yard. And three days before that, a 3-year-old boy needed plastic surgery after an attack at Red Beach, north of Auckland.

Last year, ACC received almost 10,000 claims for dog attacks, costing about $4 million.

The true number of annual attacks could be as high as 25,000, experts say, because reporting is not mandatory and owners may want to protect menacing pets.

Police would be meeting with the Porirua City Council on Monday to determine whether charges would be laid in the latest incident. A conviction for failing to control a dog causing injury can carry a three-year jail and a $20,000 fine.

A Dorset Grove resident, who did not want to be named, said she was scared of the dogs at the address - and the owners.

"They are dangerous dogs. My husband hates them too," she said.

Another neighbour said the dogs were often not chained up.

"They're not very nice, they tend to roam around."

- Additional reporting APNZ