A Northland woman whose chihuahua was mauled on a popular beach is calling on the owner of two off-leash dogs to take responsibility for the attack.
The young man with the dogs feigned sympathy, then appears to have left a fake name and address.
Mavis Downing, who works at Northland College in Kaikohe, said she was sitting on the beach with her husband and 13-year-old chihuahua Jessy at Taipa Pt, in Doubtless Bay, on Saturday afternoon when they saw a young man running with a pair of Staffordshire bull terriers.
''My husband said, 'Pick up Jessy, quick!', but it was too late. They came straight for Jessy. If I hadn't had him on a leash and pulled him back the dog would've bitten right into his stomach.''
• Two Northland children savaged by dogs in 20 minutes
• Man calls for dog to be put down after attack at Northland resort Kai Iwi Lakes
• Wandering dogs attack man and his dog in Whangārei park
• Northland news in brief: Woman in court over dog attacks
One of the Staffies did, however, manage to seize Jessy and tear a chunk out of one leg. Initially it was thought the leg would have to be amputated.
Downing said the young man pulled off the attacking dog and held the other one at bay. He was sympathetic and tried to comfort Jessy while a nurse who had heard the commotion ran to the nearby yacht club for bandages.
Downing asked for the youth's name and contact details, which he gave, but when she tried to contact him later she discovered neither the phone number nor the address existed.
Jessy is still at Kerikeri Vets but Downing hopes to take him home today. His left front leg is likely to be strapped up for the next six weeks.
Downing said it was lucky a child wasn't attacked.
She wanted the dogs' owner to take responsibility, contact the council dog ranger and foot the bill for Jessy's treatment, which was likely to run into hundreds of dollars.
She also wanted to warn others that the dogs were likely still on the loose in the Taipa area.
Jessy is well known at Northland College, where he sits under Downing's desk in the student centre.
''There were lots of long faces when I told the students what had happened,'' she said.
• The youth with the dogs is described as about 16 to 18 years old, thin but sporty, with straight black hair. He was wearing jeans and a blue T-shirt. The dogs are thought to be Staffordshire bull terriers, one black and the other ginger. One answers to the name Mama. If you know who he is, or who the dogs belong to, call the Far North District Council on 0800 920 029 and ask for animal control.