A 95-year-old Kaikohe man who lost his pet and best mate in a dog attack on Sunday has been swamped with gifts, messages of support and donations to cover his vet bill.
Jim Morgan was walking his 12-year-old fox terrier cross Sandy when they were attacked by a pack of dogs near their home, while the man believed to be their owner rode ahead of them on a quad bike. Mr Morgan, who was knocked to the ground, escaped with bruising, but Sandy suffered lacerations and a badly fractured rear leg.
Initially it was planned to amputate the leg, in the expectation that he would make a full recovery, but on Monday vets decided that euthanasia would be the kindest option.
Since then Mr Morgan has been inundated with sympathy and support from around the country, and even overseas.
By Tuesday donations had more than covered the vet bill and the cost of cremation, Bay of Islands Vets director Max Newport saying the balance would be given to Mr Morgan to use as he wished.
The clinic had also fielded a large number of calls from people wanting to express their sympathy, while neighbour Cynthia Moran said she had taken calls from as far away as Auckland and Wellington. A dog-lover in the US wanted to make a donation, and someone in Switzerland had asked for Mr Morgan's address so she could send chocolates.
A local gave him a $100 supermarket voucher.
"There's huge sympathy for him, and anger that this has been allowed to happen," Mrs Moran said. Mr Morgan was bearing up well, under the circumstances.
"But he is very, very sad. He said he was so depressed he'd rather go with Sandy," she said. The little dog had been all that he had lived for.
Neighbours would ensure he was not alone over Christmas.
Meanwhile the Far North District Council continues to investigate the attack.
District services manager Dean Myburgh said he was appalled that both Mr Morgan and Sandy had again been attacked by wandering dogs, and was very sad to learn that this time Sandy had not survived. He said animal management officers had spoken to Mr Morgan and witnesses, and were now questioning locals in a bid to identify the owner of the dogs, which would be seized and held pending prosecution.
Residents were being asked to check household security camera footage.
A separate investigation had verified Mrs Moran's claim that she reported the attack on Sunday morning, but was not contacted by animal control staff until Monday. The council's after hours service provider had confirmed that her call had been received on Sunday morning, but the wrong email address had been used to alert on-call staff.
Steps were being taken to ensure the problem did not recur.
Animal management staff had increased routine street patrols in Kaikohe to reduce the number of stray dogs, and had been conducting door-to-door registration checks.