A beloved miniature pony has died after it was rescued from a rampaging dog by two men wielding planks of wood to subdue the crossbreed.
After the horrific incident, Katikati resident Jim Hume had to sit his 6-year-old granddaughter Maryjane down and tell her the pet horse named Milo would have to be put down.
Amazingly, the pony owners bear no ill will to the people who had fostered the dog but say it is a reminder of the unpredictable nature of animals. Dog control authorities investigated 277 attacks by roaming dogs on children or other animals in 2012.
Hume said the dog escaped from a nearby property on Friday afternoon before jumping over a fence and into the Humes' kiwifruit orchard.
Jim's wife Debbie was in the house, about 50m from Milo. She witnessed the dog's onslaught and phoned Jim, who was working a short distance away. "I shot over in my car and jumped the fence," Jim said.
"The dog was hanging on to the horse. I got into it."
Jim said the dog resembled a pit bull terrier. He tried booting the frenzied animal, to no effect. He then grabbed a piece of wood and started striking it. A friend arrived with another piece of wood to assist.
"Eventually it let go," Jim said. "I grabbed it by the collar."
Debbie called police while the men restrained the dog in Jim's car. "By that time, I had a chain and got that round its neck as tight as I could, and chained it into the back of the vehicle."
The dog was destroyed by animal control officers. Sadly for the Humes, Milo was as well. "The side of (Milo's) face had been ripped open and it had broken its front leg," Jim said.
Milo was buried on Friday night. She had been with the Humes for four years. "All the grandkids had grown up with it," Jim said. "When they were younger, they used to ride it. They're a bit big for that now but they'd go out and feed it."
The Humes said their neighbours, who they'd known for many years, had only had the dog for a week. Debbie said the neighbours took the dog off a relative after growing concerned at its treatment. The Humes - who also own a pit bull cross - said they would not press charges.
Animal Services officer Betty Hall confirmed the attack happened on Friday. She said the dog's custodians immediately signed it over to be put down. "I was even touched at how the two parties got together."