Dog that attacked 6-year-old boy to be returned to owners

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The dog that attacked 6-year-old Tyree Walters will be returned to its owners. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
The dog that attacked 6-year-old Tyree Walters will be returned to its owners. PHOTO/JOHN STONE

The mother of a 6-year-old boy who was left with serious facial injuries after a dog attack says she is not happy about the council's decision to return the dog to its owners.

Whangarei District Council regulatory services manager Grant Couchman said after investigating the attack the black shar pei dog responsible for biting Tyree Walters on Friday, October 21 would be returned to its owners.

"The investigation has concluded that the bite resulted as the result of unfortunate circumstances. Tyree loved animals and as a child naturally wanted to give the animal a cuddle. This had inadvertently startled the dog which because of deafness and partial blindness had reacted by biting," he said.

The mother of Tyree, Jess Wood, said she was not happy with the decision.

"I'll definitely be keeping my kids away from the neighbours house that's for sure. Just means my kids won't be able to feel free to play like they used to as I'll be so paranoid.

But it is what it is," she said.

Mr Couchman said the dog, which was registered and microchipped, was chained to a kennel at the Valley Road property. He said the dog will be deemed a menacing dog under the Dog Control Act. This means that if it is taken out into public it must be muzzled and controlled on a leash to ensure that it does not react in the same way again if startled.

Keith Thompson, who was a dog control officer for 24 years, said it was uncommon for dogs to be released back to owners after an attack, but thought in this situation this was a reasonable decision.

"It was chained up, it was under full control. But as for the law there should be a court case and fine but I can see the circumstances here - it was blind and deaf and tied up on its property," he said.

Mr Thompson said the only concern he would have was the fact the dog was a shar pei. He said they were the second worst for dog attacks in Northland.

The dog attack was the beginning of a nightmare weekend for Tyree's family. As he lay in Whangarei Hospital after the dog attack, thieves went through his Hikurangi home and stole bags, clothes, food and a PlayStation 3 which stored songs collected by Tyree's father, Reece Walters, who died suddenly three years ago.

After reading about the story PlayStation NZ donated a PlayStation 4 to Tyree. Northern Advocate readers have also been generous and have donated just over $1000 to the family.

"It's amazing. It's so nice that so many people wanted to help us, the support has been amazing," Ms Wood said.

The PS3 and other items are still missing and anyone with information about the burglary is urged to call 430 4500.

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