Pit bull attacks toddler

By Katie Holland

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A 2-year-old suffered serious facial injuries when he was attacked by an American pit bull terrier in Rotorua on Saturday.

Senior Sergeant Malcolm Collins of the Rotorua Police said the toddler was attacked at a house on Ruth St, Fordlands .

He said the child had wandered out of the house he was at and was set upon by one of two pit bulls on the property, believed to be family pets.

Mr Collins said the boy was bitten on the face and chest and was taken to Rotorua Hospital with serious facial injuries. No condition details were available last night.

Rotorua District Council animal control supervisor Kevin Coutts said his team had seized the dog.

He said the dog was known to the council as it was classified as "menacing" under the Dog Control Act 1996, although he wasn't aware of any incidents with it previously.

"It was registered, as it was required to be," he said.

"We know the dog, we know where most of them [menacing dogs] live."

Mr Coutts said he understood the toddler was being looked after by his aunt, who owned the dog, but at the time of the attack she wasn't home and he was in the care of a teenager.

"The boy went around the side of the house and the dog hit him and took to him," he said.

Mr Coutts said he believed the worst injuries were to the child's forehead. He said police were investigating and would decide whether the injuries warranted a police prosecution or whether it would be passed back to the council to deal with. Until then, the dog would remain in the pound.

"We will hold the dog until either police take a prosecution and a judge orders it to be destroyed or the owner gives it up," he said.

"I hope in this case the owner gives it up. I can't see that dog going home."

Mr Collins said police were working with Animal Control to determine the next step.

With dog bites there was always a risk of infection so they were still awaiting a full injury report.

Mr Coutts said this latest attack was a reminder that 4 per cent of the dog population in Rotorua was responsible for nearly 20 per cent of bites.

"We are in the process of trying to get all pit bulls spayed or neutered to stop them breeding and get rid of them," he said.

"People don't get the damage these dogs can do."

The council recently resolved to enforce the full provisions of section 33E of the Dog Control Act 1996.

This means the owner of any dog classified as a "menacing dog" under the Act must, within one month, produce a certificate issued from a registered vet certifying it has been neutered. Mr Coutts said most of dogs affected were American pit bull-terrier types and dogs crossed with that breed.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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