By Rachel Grunweld, New Zealand Herald
A small terrier has ripped open the face of a little girl - and ripped apart a family.
Five-year-old Rylee was attacked by her cousin's foxy/jack russell-cross when the family was unwrapping presents at Rylee's nana's home in West Auckland.
The bite narrowly missed her jugular and her mum says the little girl is scarred and terrified of small dogs.
Rylee's mother, Cess Underwood of St Heliers, is demanding to know why the small dog has not been put down. She says any big dog that attacked a child would not be allowed to live.
Last weekend, the Herald on Sunday reported two separate attacks on small girls, one by a pit bull and one by a bullmastiff. Both dogs were put down.
The terrier-cross, named Indie, is owned by Underwood's niece Zoe Farnath, a childcare worker in her 20s.
Farnath declined to comment when approached this weekend, but in a card sent to Rylee, now 6, she promised: "I will never let it happen again."
In an email to Underwood, Auckland Council animal management inspector Tania Brown said the council had taken legal advice. "A decision not to proceed with a prosecution was made," she wrote.
"It was based on the evidence provided. The dog owner has been dealt [with] appropriately."
Underwood says her niece refused to have Indie put down.
And the council had told her they were unable to prosecute, in part because the attack occurred at a private residence. She is lodging a formal request to view the council file.
Rylee was among a dozen family unwrapping presents when the attack happened.
Underwood said she had requested the "nippy" little Indie be left outside, like her own dog, a bull mastiff/bulldog cross called Gus. Both animals were put out, but Indie returned inside a little later.
Underwood recalled hearing Rylee's piercing scream after the unexpected bite and seeing her daughter with "blood gushing everywhere".
Rylee was rushed to Waitakere Hospital where injuries to her lip, nose, chin and neck were cleaned.
One wound had just missed the jugular, and two rounds of antibiotics were needed to combat an infection that hit days later.
Underwood said: "It has split the family as she refuses to put the dog down and even got her friends to say they are happy to have their children play with the dog, which is pretty scary on an entirely different level.
"This dog is treated like a baby," she added. "It's small and therefore not considered a risk, but if my dog had bitten a child like that everyone would be calling for blood. If Gus had done it we would have put him down straight away."