WARNING: DISTRESSING IMAGES
A 95-year-old ex-serviceman's best mate — a fox terrier cross called Sandy — has had a leg amputated after an attack by six dogs running loose on a suburban Northland street.
Jim Morgan, who lives on Harold Ave in Kaikohe, was a short distance from home on Sunday morning when Sandy was set upon by half a dozen large dogs.
The dogs seized Sandy by a rear leg and shoulder and Morgan was knocked to the ground.
The dogs were off-leash and apparently being exercised by a man riding a quad bike.
Morgan's injuries are limited to bruising where he fell on the footpath but he is distressed for Sandy, his sole companion now that his wife is dead and much of his family lives in Australia.
''I was nearly home when around the corner came this big farm bike followed by half a dozen of what I believe were pig dogs. All of a sudden they took to Sandy and I got knocked over ... I've just got a bit of bruising, but I'm upset Sandy has to have a leg cut off.''
Worse still, it's not the first time Morgan and Sandy have been attacked — in April 2016 the pensioner suffered a bite wound, bruising and cuts after Sandy was attacked by a wandering dog, later identified as an American pitbull terrier and surrendered to the council.
Sandy's treatment, which included stitches to multiple wounds, was paid for by generous Advocate readers after an outpouring of support across Northland.
It's unclear what happened immediately after the latest attack — Morgan believes the quad rider pulled his dogs off Sandy, then fled without checking to see if the pair were hurt.
Another neighbour, however, claims the man took off straight away and his dogs followed.
The alarm was raised by a Harold Ave resident who heard the commotion about 8.30am. She is disabled and was unable to help so she called another neighbour, Cynthia Moran.
''She called me to say Jim was being attacked and it was a terrible, terrible noise,'' Moran said.
''By the time my husband got there the dogs had gone and Jim had got himself up. We took him home, called police and animal control, then took them to the after-hours vet in Kerikeri.''
She urged anyone who knew who owned the dogs — or a blue quad bike with a tray — to call Kaikohe police or Far North District Council animal control. The owner had been seen in the area before so clearly lived locally.
''It's not fair that an old man, minding his own business and getting a bit of exercise, can't take his dog for a walk safely. It's distressing to see. Jim lives for his dog, his wife's deceased and he has no family up here.
The 95-year-old, who had poor eyesight and hearing but still walked three times a day, had also lost his emergency medical alarm in the attack.
Moran said she had not had any response from police or animal control on Sunday.
She had also yet to see evidence of a crackdown on wandering dogs and door-to-door checks promised earlier this year by the Far North District Council.
Brian Cook, on-call vet at Bay of Islands Veterinary Services, said Sandy had a leg fracture with multiple bone fragments.
Given the dog's age, 12 years, and the difficulty of repairing such a fracture, the best option was to amputate the leg.
Morgan said people who allowed their dogs to attack other people and pets should be prosecuted.
''They know damn well dogs are supposed to be on a lead. There were six of them, and with that type of dog you don't stand a chance.''
It was the fourth time he and Sandy had had been attacked by wandering dogs.
Morgan, who turns 96 in March, was an Air Force radio operator at the former Waipapakauri airfield north of Kaitaia during World War II.
■ Once again Jim Morgan faces a large vet bill through no fault of his own. If you want to help him you can leave donations at the Northern Advocate offices in Whangārei or Kerikeri, the Northland Age in Kaitaia, or Bay of Islands Vets in Kerikeri. If you know who owns the dogs that attacked Sandy call Kaikohe police on (09) 405 2960 or Far North District Council animal control on 0800 920 029.