Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Dog attack victim: 'It would have ripped my face off'

Warning: This article contains images that readers may find distressing

Lorenzo Shoemark knew he was about to be attacked by his best friend's dog, so the 10-year-old did what his mum had always taught him -- he stood his ground.

The Waiuku boy is recovering in Kidz First Hospital after the Easter Monday attack, in which a large cross-breed dog left him with two deep bite wounds on his face, and two more on his ear. The owners of the 4-year-old male dog, who also have young children, had it put the dog down immediately following the attack.

Lorenzo's mum, Natalia Shoemark, said the consequences could have been so much worse had her son not followed the advice she had always given her children to "stand strong" and never run from a dog

"He's very proud of himself for what he's done and he should be because he saved his face. As a mum it feels like I've done my job right, because you never know if they will do the things you teach them ... I'm just so proud of him."

Her son was introduced to the dog by his friend, who then called it away, but it suddenly ran back at Lorenzo, lunging at his face.

Lorenzo told the Herald he was scared but "preparing myself" as the dog came at him.

"I knew what to do. If I ran it would have bit my leg and I would have fallen over and it would have ripped my face off."

The moment the dog bit him felt like a thud, and there was no pain at first. But there was a lot of blood, he said.

The Waiuku boy is recovering in Middlemore Hospital after the Easter Monday attack. Photo / Supplied
The Waiuku boy is recovering in Middlemore Hospital after the Easter Monday attack. Photo / Supplied

"I could see it on my shoe and on the deck. I was shaking."

The Shoemark family have two Rottweiler crosses, and he was not afraid of them. But he wasn't keen to meet new dogs again, Lorenzo said.

Mrs Shoemark said she wasn't sure yet of the emotional effect of the experience on her son. There were fears two major nerves in his face could have been damaged by the deep bite wounds, but he had escaped permanent damage.

He is expected to be released from hospital tomorrow, following plastic surgery on the day of the attack and a 48-hour course of intravenous antibiotics.

The owners of the dog told her it had never shown any signs of aggression before, and she held no blame.

"I've got nothing but forgiveness, they've lost their dog. They had him put down on Easter Monday, they had to call around five vets to find one that could do it."

She hoped they would not be prosecuted. She had not reported the incident to Auckland Council, and a council spokeswoman told the Herald they had no record of it.

Veterinary behaviourist Elsa Flint said there was no rule of thumb for how to react to a dog attack, but for children the best advice is to stay calm and stand still with arms folded like a pillar.

"If you run and scream and fling your arms around that's only going to provoke the dog."

However, if there is a dog running at you and there's a fence or gate nearby which you can quickly jump over or close, do that, she said.

- NZ Herald

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