A Far North dog has lost an eye and blinded in the other after being hit by a shotgun blast. Tuppence - who was shot in the head and upper body at Broadwood more than five months ago - and her owner shattered and angry owner tells a very different story to the account presented to the Kaitaia District Court this week.
The court heard that Guy Tahau, who was living on the neighbouring property, mistook 9-year-old Tuppence for a possum on November 5 last year.
Tahau admitted unlawfully possessing a firearm without a licence and was convicted and fined $400. He was also ordered to pay reparation of $1106.82, but as of last week had not done so.
Tuppence's owner Tracey Knight said her pet, who stood a metre tall at the shoulder and weighed 30kg, could not have been mistaken for a possum, or have been up a tree.
She also claimed her working dog and pet had been shot on the side of a public road.
Had the shot been fired a little higher it would have hit her house, she added. As it was, it had been aimed in the direction of livestock.
A tearful Knight said the Northland Age was the first to listen to her side of the story, and she would be complaining to the Police Conduct Authority about how police made inquiries.
"I've had no information from the police at all," she said.
"Their investigation focused entirely on the unlawful possession of a firearm rather than what was done with it."
Experienced hunters had told her Tuppence had been shot at a range of 10-12m. It had happened at 9pm, before full darkness.
The dog had then supposedly run some 20m before collapsing beside a blood-spattered fence post. In fact, she had been paralysed for three days after she was shot.
"The police have done nothing from my point of view," she added.
"I have been shown no respect, no compassion, nothing.
"I have never felt so unsafe in all my life, and I grew up in West Auckland. My whole family feels the same.
"My 79-year-old mother, who is not in good health, is too afraid to leave the farm where she has lived for 30 years because she doesn't know what might happen while she's not there.
"We have been swept aside and totally ignored. I don't count. My family don't count. This has wrecked our lives."
Tuppence, meanwhile, had not lost her gentle, loving nature, but now spent 90 per cent of her time in her cot, and was developing bed sores.
The only way to get her out of her bed was to allowher hens to approach the house so the dog would chase them off, said Knight.
Tuppence had five shotgun pellets removed from her head, but many more were still there. Some were still working their way out of her body. The vet had given up counting after 50.
Tahau had offered to pay the vet bill, as well as being ordered to pay reparation, but had made no contribution. The cost to the family so far exceeded $1500.
Knight said she had been to the SPCA, which was not interested in helping her, and the Ministry for Primary Industries' response had been "it's just a dog".
"It's not just a dog as far as we're concerned," she said.
"The police have done an appalling job, and we want some answers."
The appropriate outcome
Senior Sergeant Anne-Marie Fitchett said police acknowledged the trauma and impact on Knight and her whanau resulting from "this distressing incident".
Police had met her on a number of occasions, however, to explain the process, rationale and thinking regarding charges after their investigation, which included seeking advice from the vet who treated the dog, and legal opinions.
"We determined the most appropriate outcome was to charge the suspect with a firearms offence.
"Unfortunately police were not in a position to lay charges in relation to the act of shooting Tuppence," she said.