What was meant to be their daily run and bike ride for a Rotorua mother and daughter turned into a scary encounter with two snarling and aggressive dogs. Journalist Kelly Makiha reports.
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A Rotorua mother says the actions of a stranger allowed her and her daughter to escape two snarling and scary dogs so they could run to safety.
Katie, who only wanted her first name published, was running on Sunset Rd while her 7-year-old biked beside her when they noticed two dogs running around together up ahead.
Katie said before they got to the dogs, she was able to tell her daughter how best to handle the situation and reinforce some of the messages she'd learnt at school - such as allowing the dog to sniff you, but not making any sudden movements or loud noises.
She wasn't sure of the dog breeds but said they both looked like mixed breeds and had square shaped heads, similar to pitbulls. One was black with a collar and the other was a brindle colour.
She said initially the dogs just sniffed them and they seemed fine so she kept jogging, but then the dogs wouldn't leave her daughter alone and she heard her cry out "Mum, help".
"They were all over her. I started to walk back towards her but then they started to go on the attack at me, snarling and barking at me."
They then started nipping at Katie, with one jumping up and clawing the back of her legs.
"I wrapped myself around my daughter to try and protect her. Both of them were getting frenzied."
A man who was in the area heard the commotion and came to help and started yelling at the dogs. The dogs then turned their attack on the man and he was kicking the dogs with his gumboots to keep them from jumping up on him.
"I then yelled back to him 'do you need help?'. But he just told us to run."
Katie said their run back to their home had never been so quick.
"I had all this adrenalin in me."
She rang the Rotorua Lake Council's Animal Control when she got home who said they had already taken an anonymous call from the man.
"If they wanted to hurt us, I guess they would have but I don't know how long they would have gone on. They just go more and more aggressive and were a lot more aggressive on the man. I just really want to thank him."
Katie said her daughter had not wanted to ride her bike since but she was sure she would get back on it eventually.
"She will be okay until we meet another dog not on a lead."
She said it was timely for parents and caregivers to remind their children how to act around dogs given there were more families in bubbles and kids riding bikes and scooters by themselves on footpaths.
Animal Control team lead Dylan Wright said one of their team members attended the callout on Friday and was able to find one of the dogs.
The dog's owner advised the second was a neighbourhood dog and was not able to provide an address for where it lived, Wright said.
Due to the witness wishing to remain anonymous, Wright said they were limited to any further actions because they must have a witness to issue an infringement.
"This is to ensure that if an owner disputes the offence, council is able to provide a credible witness in court."
Wright said it had been disappointing animal control issues hadn't dropped during alert level 4.
"With the majority of people at home, they should know where their dogs are and these incidents should be minimal."
He said it usually ended up being dogs and other members of the public that were affected by irresponsible owners.
What to do:
* If you own a dog, it is your responsibility to make sure it is secured on your own property at all times.
* Roaming dogs should be reported to the council as soon as possible. Often people post pictures and information on private social media pages which means officers are not aware of roaming dog issues. If dogs are reported to the council, officers can attend sooner and are more likely to pick up the dog(s).
* 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. This information will help Animal Control staff to follow up as appropriate.
* 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.
Animal Control - alert level 3
* During alert level 3 Animal Control officers will be attending priority jobs only such as attacks, stock wandering on roads and collecting dogs that have been found roaming and have been secured by a member of the public (these dogs will now be impounded under alert level 3 rather than being returned home as they were under alert level 4).
* All other jobs will be followed up via phone. Officers who attend urgent jobs will be following strict guidelines such as asking screening questions and avoiding contact with people they deal with.
* We encourage people to continue to phone animal control issues through to the council on (07) 348 4199 as they normally would outside of Covid-19 alert levels.