"Mummy the yucky dog tried to eat me," are words etched in Hayley Taylor's mind.
The sight of her son Noah clutching his throat, his hands covered in blood - standing just half a metre away from a snarling dog - is something the mum will never forget.
The 3-year-old Meremere boy was attacked last weekend and his parents are furious the seized dog will be returned to its owner.
Sue Duignan of Waikato District Council confirmed the dog owner had been charged with failing to confine a dog to property but said it was unclear what happened.
"The subsequent investigation has found there are no eye-witnesses to the incident, which makes it difficult to confirm statements made from both parties," Duignan said.
"An assessment of the dog, a male labrador-cross, has found there is no history of menacing behaviour and the dog is available for the owner to collect."
Noah was left with puncture wounds and scratches to his throat, face and chest and was treated at hospital after the incident.
The preschooler was playing in his fenced frontyard as his parents packed their car for a night away. They are unsure whether their son climbed through a hole in the wire mesh fence or if he was pulled through to the neighbour's property.
"I heard him scream and cry and ran to see him standing very still in front of the dog next door," Taylor said.
"The dog was snarling at him and Noah was holding his throat, his hands were red with blood. He was looking sideways at me like he was pleading 'Mum, just help me'."
Noah's father Jarrod Taylor quickly jumped the fence, scooped up Noah, got him to safety and called an ambulance.
Noah was treated at Waikato Hospital and released that night. Animal control officers removed the dog.
On Monday, Noah's parents were told the dog would be returned to the owner because there was not enough evidence for a court to destroy the dog.
"I didn't see the dog bite Noah but I saw him standing in front of that dog, and Noah was covered in blood."
Hayley and Jarrod said since media reports of recent serious dog attacks, they wanted the council to be more proactive.
They said the council could have taken a swab to prove the dog bit Noah. Hayley said it was only a matter of time before the dog attacked again.
She believed teaching Noah to stand tall and still if he was attacked by a dog saved his life.
"Noah knew what to do. He stood very still. Most other kids would have panicked and run and that would have been a lot worse."
The owner of the dog could not be reached for comment.