Monday, May 30, 2011

Toddler-attack pitbull has violent past

By Jamie Morton, New Zealand Herald

The dog that savaged the face of a Bay of Plenty toddler has bitten before, it was revealed yesterday.
The male 4-year-old pitbull cross has been impounded since it mauled a 2-year-old girl in Kawerau on Saturday morning and the local council now wants to destroy it.
Kawerau District Council regulatory manager Chris Jensen said the dog was responsible for another attack on March 13, when it attacked a dog in a neighbouring property, ripping its ear off.
"That was reported to us by a ... person with no connection with the dogs. We followed up and interviewed the owner of the dog on the neighbouring property, but he advised he had no desire that any action be taken."
The pitbull cross, which had been registered with Rotorua District Council, was then transferred into Kawerau's records and the council issued a notice to classify the animal as menacing, Mr Jensen said.
Despite its aggressive history, the lean, muscled animal appeared docile and frightened as pound officers walked it out into an enclosure to be photographed yesterday.
But the scabs and scars clearly visible on its nose and white coat appeared to be the result of fighting.
Council officers have been unable to interview the dog's owner and the family of the victim, who returned home from Whakatane Hospital yesterday after having facial surgery on Sunday morning.
It is understood the girl's parents, who are still refusing to talk to media, do not want the dog destroyed at this stage.
It remained unclear what caused the dog to attack, "but given the information we have we will clearly be looking to have the dog put down," Mr Jensen said. "But ... we need to complete the investigation."
The dog could be destroyed either after the owner surrendered it for destruction, or after the council prosecuted and the owner was convicted.
It could otherwise be destroyed in the rare occasion where council officers could not deal with it safely.
"If the owner of this dog is not co-operating in wishing to surrender the dog for destruction, we will have to decide whether to prosecute or not," Mr Jensen said.
"If we do, it's quite likely we would hold it in the pound until the outcome of the prosecution is known."
Meanwhile, a bull mastiff-cross that mauled a 4-year-old girl in Masterton on Saturday afternoon was killed with a lethal injection just after 8am yesterday, council chief executive Wes ten Hove said.
Its owner, who Mr ten Hove said was "traumatised", has been charged with owning a dog which has caused injury, which carries a maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment, a fine of up to $20,000 fine, or both.

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