Owner of pitbull pleads guilty to attack

By Rebecca Malcolm

A toddler needed more than 20 stitches to repair a flap of skin that was ripped from her forehead when she was attacked by a pitbull.

The 1-year-old wandered out to the area where the male pitbull was tied to an old car and was bitten three times after the dog's owner, Philomena Marcelle Matthews, left the visiting toddler in the care of minors.

Matthews, 37, appeared in front of a community magistrate at the Rotorua District Court yesterday when she pleaded guilty to one charge under the Dog Control Act 1996 as being the owner of a dog, namely a pitbull, which attacked a toddler causing serious injuries.

She was represented by Annette Sykes.

The attack happened on December 15 at a house in Ruth St, Fordlands.

According to the police summary of facts, Matthews knew the dog was aggressive and all the children knew to stay away from him.

The dog was chained to a disused vehicle at the side of the property and a female pitbull was also at the property.

All the children at the address knew about the male dog and had been told to stay away from it because of its aggressive nature, the summary said.

While chained up, the dog was easily accessible from the side of the house and the only fencing was between the neighbouring property.

The toddler walked out the door to where the dogs were and was set upon by the male pitbull. She was bitten three times - once in the forehead which "de-gloved" the skin, and suffered puncture wounds on her hand and chest.

She required hospital treatment.

Matthews was remanded at large to reappear in the Rotorua District Court on February 18.

The dog was seized by Rotorua District Council's animal control unit after the attack and is being kept in the pound until a judge orders whether or not it should be destroyed.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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