Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Dog that mauled pregnant woman 'was on heat'

A Staffordshire terrier. The dogs that attacked the 23-year-old woman were Staffordshire cross dogs.
A Staffordshire terrier. The dogs that attacked the 23-year-old woman were Staffordshire cross dogs.

A dog that savaged a heavily pregnant Christchurch woman last night was on heat and went "ballistic" after a male dog came to mate with it, according to a neighbour who stopped the attack.

Cory Whyte was watching TV at his home at Glenrowan Ave, Avondale around 7.30pm last night when he heard a woman "screaming" next door.

He rushed outside to investigate and saw a Staffordshire-cross dog latched on to his neighbour - a 23-year-old woman about 30 weeks pregnant.

The dog was going "ballistic", Mr Whyte said, and had bitten the woman on her feet, legs, and forearm.

A quick-thinking Mr Whyte, who says he used to breed miniature Staffordshires, starting kicking the fence which distracted the dog long enough for the woman to get back inside to safety.

"If I never heard it, it would've been a lot, lot worse," he said.

The dog lived at the Glenrowan Ave property and had been on heat, Mr Whyte said.

A male dog had been brought around to mate with it when the attack happened, he believed.

The two dogs have been seized by Christchurch City Council's animal control staff. The animal control unit is now investigating.

Cory Whyte stopped his heavily-pregnant neighbour from being attacked by a dog in Christchurch. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Cory Whyte stopped his heavily-pregnant neighbour from being attacked by a dog in Christchurch. Photo / Kurt Bayer

The woman sustained moderate injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment, St John said.

Police said ambulance staff were helped by police to enter the property.

Mr Whyte believed the dog that attacked the woman had been taken in by its owners after being found walking around the quake-damaged Christchurch red zone.

He was concerned that the owners did not know its history, and feared that it had grown up in the wild, fending for itself.

The experienced dog owner said staffies get a bad name, and it wasn't in their nature to bite. He had never witnessed such an attack before.

Neither dog was registered or micro-chipped and Christchurch City Council says it has no records of either of them. The pair of mixed-breed dogs were being held at the council pound while an investigation took place.

The council was still waiting for formal statements from the the attack victim and dog owner.

Animal behavioural specialist

An animal behavioural specialist said some dogs were like "loaded weapons" and owners should be charged with assault if theirs attacks.

Massey University's Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences Professor Kevin Stafford made the statement in light of the recent dog attacks.

He said while some owners made attempts to control difficult dogs, not all did.

"Some owners promote these behaviours and actively train their dogs to be aggressive."

He said it was particularly distressing when you considered dogs involved in these attacks often lashed out at a family member or friend of the victim.

Professor Stafford said the Dog Control Act needed to be enforced so that all dogs were registered and more were categorised as menacing or dangerous.

"This would allow animal control officers an overview of dogs that are a danger to children and society as a whole and manage them as dictated by the act."

He added breed-based legislation wasn't necessarily the best solution given many were mixed breeds.

"Identifying dogs that are menacing or dangerous regardless of breed and encouraging the euthanasia of these dogs might make some neighbourhoods safer for children."


Dangerous dogs

The attack comes as calls for breed bans and tighter dog control ownership rules are back in the headlines.

On Saturday, 7-year-old Darnell Minarapa-Brown was attacked by his uncle's dog in Takanini on Saturday which left him needing more than 100 facial stitches.

According to two studies presented by New Zealand medical professionals last year, hospital admissions for people with dog-bite injuries average two a day.

Video

Data also shows that over the last 10 years, more than a third of these were children, mostly with facial injuries and the number of cases per year continues to rise.

More than half are to the face and this correlates with the age of the patient - children more commonly have facial injuries because they are closer to the ground.

Plastic surgeons have called for education for parents, care-givers and dog-owners about the care of children around dogs, a review of the licensing of dogs and enforcement licensing and of penalties, and an investigation into the banning of certain dangerous dog breeds.

A study published in August found 99,000 dog bites had been recorded nationally in the decade to 2014 - with more than 5800 requiring hospital treatment.

Incident rates increased from 10.5 attacks per 100,000 people to 14.3 over the 10-year period.

More than 2500 charges were made under the Dog Control Act in the past five financial years. Just over 350 dog destruction orders were granted in that time.

- NZ Herald

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