25 Jan 2010

SPCA urges tighter control of dogs after girl mauled

5:05 pm on 25 January 2010

The SPCA is urging dog owners to keep their animals under tighter control to avoid the risk of them attacking people.

In the latest incident, a five-year-old girl suffered life-threatening injuries after being mauled on Sunday and needed 10 hours of surgery in Waikato Hospital.

The girl suffered extensive facial injuries after being bitten by two pitbull crosses, which have since been destroyed.

The girl is in a stable condition in hospital on Monday. Her mother was also injured in the attack.

Whakatane District Council chief executive Diane Turner says the mother and child were visiting the owner of the dogs when the attack took place.

The council says the dogs were not registered, but did not have a known history of violent behaviour. Police are investigating the incident.

SPCA chief executive Robyn Kippenberger says it is too late to ban pitbulls because the gene pool already exists in New Zealand and about 20 breeds now can have pitbull in them.

Ms Kippenberger says existing dog control laws are adequate, but they just have to be better enforced, and she is calling for better education on dog behaviour.

She says that, on private property, the onus is on the dog owner to warn people of the possibility a dog or dogs may attack and for people to be aware and prepared.

"The onus is on them to warn people who are going to be near them and to in fact adequately keep those dogs under control. The law basically means that this person can be prosecuted."