A dog which attacked a cyclist on the Twin Coast Cycle Trail has been put down by its owner, the Far North District Council says.

On May 7 a Bay of Islands man was riding along the trail about 1km from Opua when he was knocked off his bike and bitten three times in the leg by a pitbull-type dog.

Passersby managed to stop the attack and called an ambulance. The rider required 14 stitches to his leg.

Animal management officers visited the owner who told them he had put the dog down himself.


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Environmental services manager Rochelle Deane said the officers who visited the owner's rural property near Opua were satisfied the dog, a long-time family pet, was euthanased by its owners shortly after the attack.

"This was a very unfortunate incident. While there is no doubt the dog attacked and injured the cyclist, it seems this was completely out of character. Because of its age, the owners themselves decided it was best to put the dog down."

Interviews with the dog owner suggested the dog was on a leash, was startled by the passing cyclist and attacked before the owner could react, Deane said.

That is disputed, however, by witnesses to the attack who said there was no leash. They said the owner's companion had to lead the dog away after the attack by holding onto its collar.

Deane said the owner was fined for failing to control his dog and for having an unregistered dog. Another dog owned by the same man was not involved in the attack.

Part of the 85km Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail follows the old railway line between Opua and Kawakawa. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Part of the 85km Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail follows the old railway line between Opua and Kawakawa. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The incident showed all cycle trail users needed to exercise caution.

"Dogs must be on-leash when on the cycle trail. However, both dog owners and cyclists need to be extra careful when passing each other. Dog owners need to ensure their pet is kept close and under control, and cyclists can help by warning others when they are approaching."


The victim was off work for 10 days as a result of the attack.

The council wouldn't say what evidence had been provided that the dog had been put down.

An investigation into another Twin Coast Cycle Trail incident in which a Kawakawa grandmother was injured after an off-leash dog attacked her German shepherd is continuing.

In 2016 the Far North District Council passed the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail Bylaw which allows dogs on most of the trail but only if they are on-leash. The maximum penalty is $20,000. Dogs are banned from some sections of the trail where it crosses private land.