New Zealand, Where Pit Bulls Roam Free

Pit Bulls roam free in New Zealand

5 February 2010

New Zealand’s long history of dangerous dog attacks continued today with another mauling by two pit-bulls who turned on their owner his home in Hairini, Tauranga at 6 o’clock this morning.

The man, who suffered horrific head and arm injuries, was taken to hospital whilst police officers shot dead the two animals.

There been many dangerous dog attacks in New Zealand over the years, every so often there are calls to ban certain breeds, pit-bulls included, and to introduce tougher laws but the situation continues unchanged.

The government has always backed off, fearful of infringing upon the freedoms of dog owners without there ever being much talk about the responsibilities of dog owners.

Whilst many people may say any dog has the potential to attack if it has been treated badly, questions have quite rightly been asked if tighter restrictions should be placed on people owning and keeping pit-bulls, and other dogs traditionally bred for fighting in residential areas.

So how bad is the problem in New Zealand? In the last five years dog bites have cost the ACC over $10 million for a little under 50,000 dog bite victims. In 75% of attacks the dog was known to the victim, but not necessarily owned by them. Last year 460 needed to go to hospital because of dog bites and five people have died since 1969.

Whilst many breeds of dog can be considered dangerous only 4 are banned from importation into New Zealand: the American pit-bull terrier, Brazilian fila, Dogo argentino and the Japanese tosa.

A study in 13 North Island council districts  showed that Pit-bulls inflicted the most attacks, followed by Labradors, Bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and Alsatians. The reason why Labradors feature so highly is because they are the nation’s most popular dog and there are large numbers of them.

The study also showed that unregistered dogs are nine times more likely to be involved in attacks. This shows that tighter legislation is required and there needs to be more pro-active ‘policing’ of dog owners by regulatory authorities.

Here is some background to the recent history of dog attacks in New Zealand. This is not a list off all  attacks, rather just examples of a few serious ones and how, despite a lot of rhetoric and grand-standing, nothing has changed.

2003. A dog cross-bred to have the characteristics of a American Pit-Bull Terrier attacked 6 year old Carolina Anderson in Westmere Park, Auckland. The child lost an eye and endured 10 hours of surgery to repair her face which was ripped away from the underlying bone. She has since undergone multiple reconstructive surgeries. At the time of the attack Chris Carter said:

“It is simply unacceptable that young children are unable to enjoy the public amenities of a large metropolitan city like Auckland without fear of dog attack.”

The two owners Thomas Owen and Brian Hill were jailed for the attack. Hill, was released from prison after only serving one month of a two month sentence.

Carolina Anderson’s father has been campaigning ever since to have dangerous dogs banned but said  after submissions to a parliamentary select committee in 2003 ‘the pro-dog lobby had convinced politicians a ban was not practical.‘ But if vicious dogs, bred to fight, could not be banned at least they be made to wear muzzle…right? Mr Anderson said:

“Those sorts of dogs are loaded guns waiting to go off. We don’t have the controls that we need. The first step would be muzzles on these sorts of dogs.”

August 2007. Helen Clark said that dangerous dogs ‘gave her the creeps’ after two year old Aotea Coxon was mauled by a dog in a Christchurch park, Aotea needed 200 hundred stitches and a plate inserted into a broken jaw:

It gives you the creeps to think of dangerous dogs strolling around ready to pounce on innocent people. That is why I am more than happy to keep looking at how the law can be improved and how enforcement can be improved.”

But she said every time that has been attempted ‘there had been a push-back from responsible dog owners and breeders‘.

The attacks continued.

August 2009. Margit Christensen almost died after being seriously mauled by pack of 8 Pig-Dogs (a bull terrier-cross kept for hunting) as she jogged along a road in Putaruru. She suffered horrific injuries. The female owner of the dogs, Tuha-Karaina, was sentenced to three months home detention and 200 hours of community service, hardly a deterrent to irresponsible dog owners.

January 2010: Former All White, Stu Jacobs was attacked by a cross bred Mastif. He demanded that tougher dog laws be introduced:

“I’d like to see certain breeds banned. I think there needs to be a certain rule that when dogs are in public there is more control over the dog so they can’t be running free.“They need to have a lead on, or a muzzle, or we need areas where a dog can roam free that isn’t amongst the public. Someone is going to get badly hurt, if not tragically killed, unless this is dealt with immediately.”

24 January 2010: A 3 year old girl received 20 stitches to her face and almost lost an eye when a pit-bull attacked her in Wairoa, Hawkes Bay. The same day a 5 year old girl from Taneatua, near Whakatane, needed 10 hours of surgery after being mauled by two Staffordshire crosses. She suffered injuries over most of her body.

21 May 2010:  2 dog attacks in four days in Castlecliff, Wanganui. See Dog Attack Horror

A spokesman for Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said a “review of dog ownership laws will begin in June, and the latest attacks are going to be ‘taken into consideration.’”

But amazingly Mr Hide has already said that he thinks that dogs are subject to more controls that ever and their owners’ rights to enjoy them are “overly restricted.”

Nevertheless he is still taking care to go through the motions. He has asked officials to look at a “first principles” review of all dog laws, describing present legislation as an “onerous muddle,” much of it created through emotion after of individual high-profile dog attacks rather than after clear thinking.

So now we’re waiting until June to see if the review does start, whether there will be a definite closing date for delivery of the report (will it fade away) and, most importantly, if it does anything to lessen the risk of more members of the public being ripped apart by uncontrolled dogs.

Based on recent history things ain’t looking good. Dog owners need to be educated NOW. It’s time to toughen up the penalties for those who shirk their responsibilities and allow their dogs to be free to attack, intimidate and maim.

A spokesman for the NZ Kennel Club, Phil Lyth, has said he thinks the review needs to be finished this year instead of next and has supported National Party’s National Party MP Simon Bridges’ draft for a private member’s bill for tougher penalties for willful ill-treatment of animals. Bridges said the

“Ill-treatment of animals can include the sort of neglect which leads to attacks on humans – it’s not dissimilar territory.”

Dealing with a culture of brutality and animal cruelty within New Zealand are going to be tough nuts to crack.

Pit Bulls Allowed to Roam Free at Night

Can you believe that in a country like New Zealand that dangerous dogs are not only kept in unfenced or insecure yards but some are even allowed out to roam free at night?

From The Canterbury Star

“When Lea Kortman heard a cat screaming, never did she imagine it was her Winkle being mauled by dogs.

City council animal control officers have started patrols of the Hoon Hay area to try and find the dogs – described as two tawny brown American pitbull terriers.

It appears the owners of the dogs are letting them loose in the neighbourhood at night.

The dogs are believed to have killed at least two cats in the suburb over the last few weeks, with one resident witnessing one of the fatal attacks on her doorstep.

Animal control officers set up a trap in a property where one of the attacks took place.

Three other cats have gone missing.

Winkle, a black-and-white long haired cat, was killed last Thursday night.

Mrs Kortman said she was watching television when she heard frenzied barking outside.

She opened the doors of her Samuel St house, and while she could see nothing, she heard “the most godawful screaming” from her cat.

A neighbour chased the dogs away and found Winkle dead on the road.

“I’m just devastated. It’s left a huge hole,” Ms Kortman said.

A resident on nearby Dalkeith St saw the dogs ripping her cat apart on her doorstep.

And a Newland St resident has put up flyers after his six-year-old Abbysinian cat went missing last Friday.

Its collar and fur were found on the road…more

8 thoughts on “New Zealand, Where Pit Bulls Roam Free

  1. I wasted my time posting an entire page of information that debunked this poppycock article and I was censored for it. If you’re a pit bull fan then you will never have the opportunity to correct the misinformation maliciously spread about your dogs in New Zealand. The mainstream media censor you as well. Maybe that’s what your article should have been about, censorship and how to keep the masses intentionally misinformed.

  2. New Zealand deserves everything it has had from pitbulls. New Zealand had an opportunity to prevent this breed from entering the country when a breeder first imported them in 1987 despite opposition from the RSPCA. Pitbulls have a notorious public image. Which only adds to their appeal to a certain demographic, namely gangs and lowlifes who don’t care that their precious children may be mauled or even killed without warning – there are countless examples… google them

  3. My sister lives next door to people who have 2 pitt bulls. They have killed 3 cats lately (and that’s just what we know of), one was her beloved cat George of 17 years, who deserved to die of old age, not mauled by 2 dogs while the owner stood there doing nothing. My nephew had to jump the fence and end the cats life while it lay bleeding and torn apart. It was so sad for the family, our pets are like children. The owners are not responsible people, so why should they be allowed to let these dogs continue to kill and maim. Why can’t we do something about this??? How do we band together and take steps to rid NZ of this breed. There are plenty of other nice dogs for pets.


    A giant Kiwi that is awaiting deportation from Australia has expressed his concern over returning home – saying it will be a death sentence for him. “You [may as well] put me in a coffin with the rest of my family members,” the 2.1 metres tall (6ft 10 1/2in), 200 kilograms Tewao wrote in a message to The Dominion Post yesterday. “You know how it is with us Maoris back home everyones well knowen gang members. I cant get away from it if it is family orientated.” (sic) Tewao, nickname ‘Tiny’, said his pending deportation based on his criminal past and size was “unfair”. Born and raised in Auckland, the former Papakura High School rugby player moved to Perth in 2007 to escape the clutches of the ‘Black Power’ gang, into which he was born, Fairfax NZ reports.

  5. I would say that the reason these dogs behave in this manner may be due to a horrible upbringing. I do not think a society where getting drunk every Thursday or being proud of how you game the system, would be one where dogs are treated as valuable additions to the family and a helpful friend to the young.

    In other words… the treatment meted out to dogs, may probably be worse than what the children get a chance to see happen around them.

    This isn’t going to produce dogs that are likely to be pleasant. It is going to produce dogs that are going to have anger management issues and overreaction.

    • You could say the same thing for some of the children. The things they experience at home.. To the schools’ credit, and especially the volunteers (a large percentage of migrant ones, here, I have observed, who seem more idealistic and less inclined to “write them off”), some of the problems they have at home are partially mitigated by special attention at school, and they grow up a little better than they could have otherwise. Or a little less violent. If the school has more resources and a diverse population, you are more likely to see this improvement in them. In the poorer schools drawing from a more generally disadvantaged population, the problems seem to “take over”. That isn’t to say that bullying doesn’t happen in the rich schools. It most certainly does. And you do also find a “bubble effect” of parents not wanting their children to rub shoulders with kids from lower-decile or state schools, so not much oxygen exchange in the social strata.

    • How many owners have turned out to be absolutely amazed that their softie bull cross type of dog turned out to be one that would maul a stranger.
      The way dogs act around their owners, who are the leaders of the pack, is completely different to how they act around complete strangers, that they often mistake for prey, in the case of small children.
      If owners of dogs don’t really understand simple aspects to a dogs nature like that, when they own dogs, then who are they to go preaching to others about their lack of knowledge about dogs? like we often see happen.

  6. When fear and emotion is used to create laws, you know ‘The System’ has failed. I understand why people are concerned. I too, am concerned when dogs are running lose and can pose threat to public safety. It is unacceptable. However, how is the destruction of certain breeds the solution? All that will happen is irresponsible owners will get a different breed of dog and the cycle will continue. This is slapping a band-aid on the issue, it is not resolving the problem. What happens when people don’t obey traffic laws, or when juvenilles commit crimes? There are consequences that directly affect the people who own the vehicle or the parent of the child. That’s what needs to happen with this situation. That would be the responsible solution. These are animals, not humans. They don’t understand our societies laws. How can you use human logic on animals? Not to mention it is a form of discrimination. Creating these types of laws creates a slippery slope and shows the lack of thought and education of our lawmakers.

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