A Hawke's Bay District Health Board nurse has been unable to work or even drive after being attacked by a patient's dog

On March 24, the nurse made a pre-arranged visit to an address on Bledisloe St, Hastings and the dog became visibly aggressive.

She had earlier phoned in advance and was advised it was safe to enter through the front gate.

However, after entering through the front gate, she saw a dark coloured dog " barking and growling" behind a second gate.


As she walked diagonally across the lawn towards the front door, the dog jumped the gate and attacked her - biting her on the foot and making her fall to the ground.

The dog, a male Mastiff Labrador cross, then bit her on the buttock.

As she screamed for help two women came out of the house yelling at the dog to let go.

As a result of the attack, the nurse suffered a significant puncture wound to her buttock which required medical attention at Hawke's Bay Hospital.

The incident has also caused her to suffer psychological impacts including anxiety and nightmares.

The dog, named 'Smokey', was later found to be unregistered. It has been seized and impounded while the owner is prosecuted.

In a paper going before the Hastings District Council's hearings committee next month, regulatory manager John Payne said that although the dog was behind a gate, the area was not enclosed, meaning if the dog hadn't jumped the closed gate, it could have simply run around the back of the house to the front - via the unfenced side - and attacked the nurse.

Payne said the dog was being held in at the pound in order to protect the community.


On April 4, the council received a written request from the dog owner for the release of the dog.

The committee will hear evidence before making a decision to return the dog or not.

The owner did not respond to requests from Hawke's Bay Today for comment.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Chris McKenna said the incident should not have happened.

"Our district nurses do their best to support and help sick people recover – all we ask is for people with dogs to tie them up so they can't hurt anyone.

"The nurse involved in the incident has been very badly shaken, and we are supporting her as she recovers at home."

McKenna said district nurses played a very important role in helping people return to health and recover in their own homes.

She said the HBDHB has a robust safety plan for district nurses that includes:

• When there are dogs on the property calling ahead to let the patient know they will visiting and at what time to make sure dogs have been tied up.

• District nurses have cell phones with them at all times, and the first visit to a patient includes an environmental safety check, with alerts such as dogs logged.

• Before nurses leave the work base a documented copy of where they are going is logged along with a visit plan. This will also include known safety concerns.

• Each day at midday a text to all staff is sent to check on safety and workload. Any nurses working alone (sole workers) also have to text their clinical nurse manager when they return to work base to confirm they have returned safely.

• Two nurses are also required to visit patients after 5.30 pm and no new assessments (initial visits) are completed after 5.30pm(winter) 7.30pm (summer).

• There are further safety checks in place for nurses returning to base after 5pm.