11,708 dog attacks on Kiwis last year - ACC

By Elizabeth Binning

Nearly 12,000 people suffered from dog bites last year. Photo / Thinkstock
Nearly 12,000 people suffered from dog bites last year. Photo / Thinkstock

Nearly 12,000 people suffered dog bite injuries last year, including more than 1700 children aged under 10 - many of whom will be left with scars.

The number of attacks requiring medical attention has increased since 2003 when 8677 people were attacked, including 7-year-old Carolina Anderson who has needed years of surgery after being mauled in an Auckland park.

Her case was so bad it resulted in tougher dog control measures being passed, including the compulsory microchipping of all dogs, but they appear to have done little to prevent thousands of other children from being bitten.

ACC claim statistics released to the Herald revealed 11,708 claims were made by dog-attack victims in 2011 - at a cost of $2.4 million.

Of those claims, 872 were for children under the age of five, 891 for 5-9-year-olds (the highest for any age bracket) and 705 for 10-14-year-olds - similar figures to 2010.

Local Government Minister Nick Smith is seeking a more detailed breakdown of the statistics, including trying to establish how many of the attacks have caused serious injury, occurred in public places and left children permanently maimed.

He plans to use that information in a review of current dog control laws to see if there is anything else that can be done to prevent serious attacks - but is warning in advance there are "no magic bullets".

"We have got 500,000 dogs in New Zealand so it's just impossible to prevent every dog bite or injury. The number of ACC claims is static, albeit, nearly 12,000 is a lot of people that have been hurt by dogs.

"The attacks that are of a particular concern to me are those that occur in public places and even more so where they involve children."

Mr Smith promised to review the laws this week after three children were seriously attacked.

In one case a 3-year-old boy was left with critical injuries after he was bitten by a doberman-Staffordshire-pitbull cross in Ashburton.

An 18-month-old girl received significant injuries to her face and stomach after being attacked at her Porirua home by a pitbull-Staffordshire and a 9-year-old girl received deep cuts to her head and arm after being attacked by an American bulldog in Rotorua.

Mr Smith said he hoped the review would be completed by March.

Meanwhile, Aucklanders are being invited to have their say on Auckland Council's proposal to introduce a new dog policy and bylaw for the region - which will replace the seven bylaws and policies inherited from previous council administers.

The new bylaw, which should be in operation by October, includes making seasonal start and finish times for dog access on beaches and parks the same across Auckland, neutering menacing and uncontrolled dogs and standardising dog access rules for playgrounds, sports grounds, carparks, campgrounds and footpaths.

2011 ACC CLAIMS

Age: 0-4 years
No of claims: 872
Cost of claims: $107,675

Age: 5-9 years
No of claims: 891
Cost of claims: $126,891

Total 11,708 $2.4m

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 19 Dec 2014 22:00:13 Processing Time: 1528ms