Police were called to a dog attack at a Tara Rd address on Friday afternoon. A toddler was airlifted to the Middlemore Hospital, while the family dog was seized by Animal Control and “destroyed”.
Kaipara District Council spokesperson Hayley Worthington said the child was recovering from her injuries and that due to a police request, the dog’s body was being held at the Whangārei District Council pound for “evidential purposes”.
Jepson said his heart went out to the girl’s family, “as what happened to them is truly terrible”.
He said the council had received numerous complaints from the public about unruly and misbehaving dogs over the years. However, he believed the recent attack on a baby was a first for the region.
The latest available figures on the council’s annual animal management report show 41 dog attacks were reported for 2020-21 in the Kaipara district. The Advocate requested council data for the latest year, but had not heard back at edition time.
Speaking generally, the mayor said he felt effective dog control policies usually involved the active participation of dog owners. He believed there are no bad dogs, but rather irresponsible owners.
“I think there is a certain [minority] percentage of owners who see dogs as fashion accessories and not a life-long commitment, as we would do for a kid.”
The mayor said one of the big issues was that several dog owners did not have their dogs registered.
He recalled instances when people would only register only one of their dogs when they owned five or more. Since some people don’t anticipate the cost of owning a pet, they end up compromising the wellbeing of their canines, Jepson said.
On the issue of wandering dogs, he said, the council was proactive, as rangers are deployed to track down roaming dogs and take them in.
“The timing of the recent attack is a prudent reminder for us to perhaps give thought [as to] whether we need to change our approach on such matters and see what’s best for us and the community at large.”
Avneesh Vincent is the crime and emergency services reporter at the Advocate. He was previously at the Gisborne Herald as the arts and environment reporter and is passionate about covering stories that can make a difference. He joined NZME in July 2023.