A man who survived a crash on an isolated Northland road was attacked by a pitbull while trying to rescue his wife from the vehicle.

The Dargaville resident, believed to be in his 60s, was taken to hospital because of his injuries from the dog rather than the crash.

The driver, who did not want to be named, said the dog took a chunk from his leg. His wife was "battered and bruised" after the accident but not too badly hurt.

The incident happened on Tangowahine Valley Rd, north of Dargaville, in fog about 9.30am on Saturday. It is believed the vehicle hit a tree and landed in a paddock.


The driver got out to check on his wife and went for help when he realised she was not badly injured.

Local Hugh Rose was one of the first on the scene, arriving with his tractor to tow out the car. But his initial delight that there were no serious injuries soon turned to horror.

Mr Rose said as the man returned to the car to help his wife "this bloody pitbull came from the place next door and latched onto his leg".

"It came from the property about 50 to 100 metres away and attacked him. It caused a bit of damage and he was bleeding."

Mr Rose and the man chased away the dog. Police were called and got the dog taken away by animal control staff.

"It's lucky the dog didn't get to his wife in the car first. She wouldn't have been able to defend herself at all," Mr Rose said.

"It was pretty distressing, but what was even more upsetting was that the people in the house [where the dog came from] didn't come to render any assistance, either for the accident or their dog attacking the man."

He said the man was treated at the scene by ambulance staff then taken to hospital.


"He was bleeding pretty badly from the leg. I was quite amazed, he was trying to help his wife but had to fend off this dog that attacked him.

"It was unbelievable that the people who owned this dangerous dog didn't even offer any help at all," Mr Rose said.

"It's not a nice thing to see happen, an accident then a man attacked by a dog."

He said the dog appeared to have chewed its way through its lead before attacking the man.