Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Banned owner puts deposit down on puppy

Jennifer Layton and her dog Boris who was destroyed after two complaints against him. Ms Layton was banned from owning dogs for five years, but that time has been halved on appeal.
Jennifer Layton and her dog Boris who was destroyed after two complaints against him. Ms Layton was banned from owning dogs for five years, but that time has been halved on appeal.

A Whitianga resident banned from owning a dog for five years celebrated having her time halved by putting a deposit down on a puppy.

Jennifer Layton said the decision by the Thames Coromandel District Council's judicial committee earlier this month to let her own a dog again after a third appeal was a weight off her shoulders.

"I am just very happy to now be like a normal person and have the cloud lifted over my head and I now can take a dog for a walk, I can be seen with dogs. I was scared even to take my friend's dog even with them incase I was seen because that would have gone down as a bad point for me at a hearing if I'd been seen walking someone else's dog."

In April 2014 Mrs Layton was convicted at Thames District Court of owning a dog that attacked a person after her giant schnauzer Boris broke his collar and lunged at a woman.

The pensioner was ordered to pay $250 to the victim, ordered to have Boris put down and was disqualified by the council of owning a dog for five years from October 2013, which is when the offence happened.

Mrs Layton appealed her disqualification in December 2014 and in March 2016 and both were subsequently rejected by TCDC's judicial committee. Desperate to own a dog again, she then lodged an appeal in April 2016 at Thames District Court.

An appeal conference was set at the court but was adjouned after TCDC realised incorrect information about how long Mrs Layton had been banned for had been put in reports which the committee had used to consider the earlier appeals.

The reports had incorrectly stated Mrs Layton had only been banned from owning a dog since April 2014 when she was actually disqualified on October 2013 so had served an additional six months.

A third committee hearing was instead held on 2 June and this time the committee voted to lift the animal lover's ban.

TCDC community environment group manager Barry Smedts said, in a statement, there had been a turning point because Mrs Layton had demonstrated accountability for the circumstances leading to the offence involving her dog.

"Given the changes demonstrated by the person, and that steps will be taken to ensure measures are in place to fully train and secure any future dog she owns, it was resolved to immediately lift the disqualification."

Mrs Layton said she cried all day after hearing she could finally own a dog again.

She received the formal letter from council last week confirming the ban was lifted and immediately went and paid a deposit for a black labrador puppy. Mrs Layton is now counting down to the start of July when she can take the puppy called Bojangles home.

"It's been hell on earth. I've got two cats now and they've been a replacement, but it's not like you can take a cat for a walk. And that's what I've missed."

Mrs Layton said she had been unlucky with Boris.

"I've owned dogs all my life. It was just a one-off thing. We made mistakes, we paid the price. It cost me $10,000 and it's over now and I just want to start again and be normal again."

Mrs Layton told the Herald in 2014 that Boris was "boisterous and large" and argued whether it was even an "attack" because he had not drawn blood.

- NZ Herald

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