New Zealand's injury rate from serious dog attacks has soared since the 1990s, according to a new New Zealand Medical Journal finding. It found 4958 people were admitted to New Zealand hospitals with dog bites between 2004 and 2014, most often preschool children. To address the problem in Rotorua, the district council has repeatedly called upon dog owners to maintain control over their dogs, and their interactions with people, especially children. However, the council's pleas may be falling on deaf ears, with two cases of children being attacked by dogs in the last week.
Two Rotorua dog attacks on children, just days apart, both had the potential to be "much worse", according to the Rotorua Lakes Council.
In a written statement today it said the attacks were a timely reminder for dog owners.
"It is their responsibility to make sure their dog is secured on their own property at all time and that when others are around," animal control team lead Dylan Wright said.
Rotorua police notified animal control of the latest attack, in Kaingaroa, yesterday about midday.
"A staff member went to Rotorua Hospital to meet with the mother and the child who had suffered puncture wounds to a leg. The attack happened out on a street where children were playing. The dog, a pit bull type, came out from a property."
He said the control officer visited the owners but the dog was no longer at the property.
"It is understood the dog's owners and the victim of the attack are whānau. The mother of the injured boy indicated she did not wish to take the matter to court and because the injuries were not serious, the matter was dealt with by way of a $300 infringement notice."
Kaingaroa Forest Village council-manager Denise Takahi had not heard of the incident when the Rotorua Daily Post called today and suspected it was a one-off.
"We haven't heard from anyone complaining of roaming dogs lately. We did hear of that a year ago, but that wasn't a serious problem, it was more that they were getting into people's rubbish bags.
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"If we hear of the problem popping up we normally put a reminder in our newsletters but to solve the problem or report a roaming or dangerous dog, people need to immediately call the council's animal control team."
The attack in Kaingaroa came days after a dog attack in the Westbrook area on Wednesday.
It was not reported to the council at the time.
"A dog attacked a child walking home but the boy was unable to give any description and we do not know where the dog was from," Wright said.
He said it was vital attacks were reported to the council as soon as possible.
"Attacks are considered a 'priority one' job which means they are responded to immediately, 24 hours a day."
Less than a month ago three cats, one dog, and a guinea pig were killed by dogs in Hillcrest.
Patrols increased in Hillcrest and other areas known for roaming dogs, but no dogs were identified as the attackers.
The council has a team of seven animal control officers, with some on call after hours.
They attend complaints and carry out patrols seven days a week.
- Often people post pictures and information on private social media pages which means officers are not aware of roaming dog issues.
-When reporting a dog (if safe to do so) a photograph of the dog and/or a detailed description of the breed and if known, the address from which the dog emerged or is known to live, is useful.
- If you see a roaming dog it is important to try and distance yourself from the dog but do not run. If possible get behind a solid object such as a fence, inside your home if you are on your own property or get to your car if it is nearby.