ARE huskies dangerous?
That's the question a Whanganui East resident is asking after her pet cat was attacked and killed. Two other cats are missing.
Moana Ellis wants to raise awareness of the need for owners to keep their dogs under control and not be left to wander the streets.
She is also questioning if Siberian huskies are a suitable pet for neighbourhoods densely populated with cats.
Two dogs, believed to be Siberian huskies, came on to Ms Ellis' Willis Street property on Sunday night.
"It was late, about 11.30pm. I heard a cat fighting outside, but no barking and I dismissed it as a cat fight," she said.
"Then I heard rushing down the side of the house ... frenzied activity, it sounded like dogs.
"It was about 11.30pm and by the time I got outside it was all over. The dogs had killed our cat."
Potiki - her cat - lay dead on the lawn and another cat was up a tree with the dogs below trying to reach it. When the dogs saw Ms Ellis they ran across the street into another driveway.
"I grabbed a torch and went to find the dogs' owner.
"I saw another neighbour who was out looking for the dogs. They had been on his property and his cat was missing. He helped me try to find the dogs' owners, then he buried my cat for me.
"Potiki came to us as a stray and was with us for 11 years. Obviously he didn't stand a chance against two dogs, and the way he died was distressing for our whole family."
The neighbour found their cat the next morning. "It was scared but not harmed."
Ms Ellis spoke the next day to a resident where the huskies were being kept. "She said the dogs did not live there and were just visiting. She apologised and said the dogs would be taken away that day. I was told later they had been moved out of town.
"The animal control officer who investigated told me that the incidence of attacks on cats by huskies is high. I wonder if people are aware, when choosing a husky as a family pet, that they may have to take special precautions to ensure their husky is contained."
Ms Ellis said responsibility rested with the owners.
"It's down to the owners to ensure their dogs are controlled and contained. Those dogs were hunting in my street and there are still cats missing in the neighbourhood.
"I'm missing two cats and one is dead, and he died a horrible death. I want my family, and that includes our pets, to be safe."
Whanganui District Council said two huskies had been impounded but would not comment further while Sunday's attack was investigated.
Asked about dangerous dogs in the district, a council spokesman said records included 27 dangerous dogs. The top two breeds were pitbull-pitbull cross and husky.
"Recorded husky attacks are primarily on cats, chickens and rabbits. Pitbull attacks have been on other dogs and humans as well as small animals."
Siberian Huskie breeder Gayleen Speeden said huskies made for loyal, loving family pets, but like many breeds, some did have a strong prey drive. "We warn our customers to be very careful. They are not a killing dog, but they will go after smaller animals, especially if they run."
"Several of my huskies have grown up with cats and it's not a problem. But others may be more prey driven.
"It's unfair to single out huskies - there are many breeds of dogs that will chase cats, but even then, it comes down to the individual dog."
Siberian Huskies are not listed as a dangerous dog in New Zealand and are banned in only one country - the Ukraine - where 84 breeds are considered dangerous.
Website, Reference.com, describes Huskies as generally friendly toward humans and other dogs. However, typical husky behavior may cause problems for pet owners, it says.
"Siberian huskies have a natural predatory instinct and view smaller animals as potential prey. Therefore, putting a husky in a home with cats puts felines in grave danger of attack."
Meanwhile Associate Minister of Local Government Louise Upston has announced a second round of proposals as part of the national action plan to reduce the risk and harm of dog attacks.
The additional changes will ensure the owners of high-risk dogs are fit for the job, introduce stricter penalties for owners of dogs that attack, and improve data about dog attacks.
"We will require owners of dogs classified as menacing or dangerous to obtain a 'high-risk dog owner licence' from their council. Owners will need to show they are capable of handling a high risk dog, show they understand their legal obligations and have their property inspected. The dog's temperament will also need to be tested.
"Licence holders will be the only exception for the adoption of menacing dogs from animal shelters," she said.
Maximum penalties for dog attacks causing serious injury will also be increased, and offences causing endangerment or injury will be extended to include incidents occurring on private property, not just public spaces. Ms Upston intends to introduce legislation in February 2017. Members of the public will have an opportunity to have their say on the legislative changes during the Select Committee process.