Even dog lovers will have been surprised by the decision of Judge Tony Adeane to spare the life of a dog that "degloved" a woman in a vicious attack.

Matthew Fa'alele, the owner of Lennox, the American pitbull terrier, has pleaded guilty to a charge of owning a dog that attacked a person and one charge of failing to register the dog.

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In the Hastings District Court yesterday, Judge Adeane ordered him to pay, within three months, a $300 fine for failing to register the dog and $1000 for emotional harm to the victim. However, the judge stopped short of ordering the dog be destroyed, with the defence arguing that it was a one-off situation.


The victim, Cherie Youngman, who was one of Mr Fa'alele's children's teachers, is apparently still dealing with emotional and physical repercussions from the attack.

One can understand why. Having a vicious dog injure you in such a way would take a lot to get over. I can, to some degree, sympathise with the family because the dog was their "family member" and seems to have been loving to them.

However, the fact that it went for someone who was legitimately trying to enter the property and who thought it would be OK because the children were there as well changes everything. It should have been enough for it to have been destroyed.

But it wasn't and, now that it has been released from the pound, the onus is on the family to ensure that their pet is never allowed to do something like this again.

The probability of it happening again is high, but it is good that at least the judge put some strict rules in place, such as the dog being neutered, muzzled in public and having access to the front yard only when the owner was present.

Let's hope, for the sake of any potential victims, the dog and the family, that this is enough.