A 94-year-old Kerikeri man is recovering in hospital after trying to defend his pet from an attack by two unrestrained pitbulls.
Police say the man was walking his pet on the field behind Kerikeri High School and next to the Domain about 6pm on Sunday when a woman was walking two dogs, which appeared to be pitbulls, on the other side of the field.
The man's small dog was on a leash but the woman's were not.
Senior Sergeant Brian Swann, of Mid North police, said the two larger dogs ran across the field and attacked the elderly man's pet, grabbing it by the ear.
When the man tried to intervene to protect his dog he was bitten several times on his legs and right arm. He received puncture wounds on his legs and a nasty cut to his wrist.
He was taken by St John Ambulance to Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa where he was expected to require stitches. His dog's ear was torn but it was otherwise uninjured.
Mr Swann said the woman with the pitbulls left the scene when police arrived, but officers were given a name which they passed on to Far North District Council's animal control team. The council would investigate whether action could be taken on grounds of owning dangerous dogs or failing to control dogs.
It is understood the woman lives on a nearby street.
One person who knows what it's like to be elderly and attacked by a dog is Jim Morgan of Kaikohe, who turns 93 next week.
He was walking on Harold Ave last April with his terrier-chihuahua cross, Sandy, when they were attacked by an American pitbull. Mr Morgan was knocked to the ground and suffered bites to his hand while Sandy was bitten all over and required numerous stitches.
Advocate readers paid the $700 vet bill and donated gifts to aid the pair's recovery.
A year later Mr Morgan said Sandy had "healed perfectly" but he still had pain in the hand that was bitten.
He called on dog owners to keep their animals under control at all times.
"Any dog can bite, but the pitbulls really go for you. They shouldn't be allowed in the country in the first place," he said yesterday.
According to the Far North District Council's dog control bylaw, which is undergoing a review, dogs must be on a leash while on any footpath in the Far North. They are banned entirely from many children's playgrounds, including in Kerikeri.
Dogs do not have to be kept on a lead in Kerikeri Domain but the bylaw says dogs must be "under continuous control at all times", even in off-leash areas. The person in charge of the dog must also make sure it does not cause any danger, distress or nuisance.
Dogs must be on a lead while on the sports fields next to the domain, which are owned by the Education Ministry.
Mr Swann said Sunday's attack was a reminder of the need to keep dogs under control, even in a place such as the Domain where many people exercised their pets, and to respect other people using the area.