Destroy the dog, charge the owner with the crime as if s/he performed the attack

The latest vicious dog attack in South Waikato has the dog control manager there asking the government to enforce the neutering of menacing dogs.

A 16-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when he was attacked by a three year old pitbull-boxer cross in Tokoroa on Wednesday.

The attack only stopped when the boy’s three friends managed to grab the dog and sit on it.

It comes after a spate of serious dog attacks in the last week, with the victims including a young boy, a pregnant woman and an elderly woman.

Kerry Beckett a South Waikato district council compliance manager said it was time for a tougher approach.

“That may mean that we make the South Waikato mandatory if you have a pitbull or any of the menacing breeds, then you must desex it.”

It’s a start.   But a black market in entire pit bulls will simply take the place of the ones currently sold.  An even the SPCA and the NZ Kennel Club say that de-sexing isn’t the solution.  

John Anderson, the father of a dog attack victim, wants the government to face up to the thousands of people who are injured each year.

His daughter was mauled in 2003, and has gone through countless operations since.

Mr Anderson told Morning Report the minister Louise Upston needed to meet with the victims and their plastic surgeons so she could understand the profound trauma of an attack.

He said a ban would be hard but the government should consider neutering and higher registration fees for dangerous dogs, as well as higher penalties and assault charges for the owner if the dog does attack.

It will start with the pit bulls.  And then, if that works, some other breed will rise to the top of the statistics.  Currently, Labradors head that list simply due to the large proportion of the total dog population.   And few, if any, are looking to ban Labradors.

So the answer has to be elsewhere.  It needs to go back on the owner.  Every dog that attacks a human in unprovoked attacks is immediately taken and destroyed by the council.  Any damage and injuries that result need to be paid for in full, or in perpetuity, by the owner.

We all have knives, but when someone uses one to stab a jogger in Remuera, we don’t have a discussion about what type of knife to ban.  We clearly blame the person using the knife.

Dog ownership comes with a responsibility that the public is safe.  If that turns out to be false, the owner needs to bear the full cost of the consequences.  And in severe cases, such as severe disfigurement or permanent disability, the owner needs to also face punitive damages and a loss of liberty.




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  • Isherman

    I tend to agree, and people will have different opinions about whether a total ban on Pitbulls specifically is justified or not, but if a journalist or any other person for that matter takes a position that you disagree with, issuing death threats, as has happened to Duncan Garner over his position is just not on, and they need to be dealt with forcefully too.

  • Right Wing Uni Student

    Agreed. The responsible owner should not be limited by the few idiots who don’t train their dogs.

    I’m more in favour of punitive sentences rather than civil liability here. The type of person who owns a brutal dog and fails to train it is also often the type that won’t/can’t pay the bill anyway.

  • Union Jack

    Already said my two penny worth on GD but since we have another thread here I will add that this whole situation is hopeless and dog attacks will never stop because we are dealing with the same people again who we are dealing with elsewhere in the system.
    If you ran a profile of the average person whose dog attacked someone they would more than likely be Maori or PI , beneficiary, most likely have a criminal record and probably known to CYFS.
    All the other areas of the system have had no luck reforming them so why is dog control going to be different?.

  • Davo42

    I agree menacing dogs need to be properly controlled or destroyed, and owners appropriatley punished, but there is always 2 sides to a story, as it was reported these lads were up to a bit of mischief.

    “We got a call about a group of high school age kids that were hanging around a dilapidated house at lunchtime,” Beckett said.
    “They got into an altercation with a person across the road, who owned the dog.”
    The dog’s owner told the teens to leave the abandoned property, but they refused, she said.
    That’s when the dog leapt over a pallet resting against the side of a fence and chased the four, Beckett said. It launched first at one of the teens, who claimed to be petting it, then turned on his friend.
    Did they deserve to get chomped? I don’t think so unless they teased the dog – were they innocent angels minding their own biz with no part to play? Nope.

  • Ross

    Time and again dog owners have demonstrated they can be responsible owners. Why penalise some because of lowest common denominator policy?

    We need harsh prosecution of those owners who do not responsibly raise and nurture these dogs. And if a dog does attack, then a zero tolerance approach with regards to the dogs future.

    Banning a particular breed won’t actually solve this problem.

  • Jman

    Actually I think it can start and end with pitbulls. This breed is so much more dangerous than any other dog breed they simply don’t compare.

    • Ross

      What about Staffordshire bull terriers? Rottweilers?

      You open a can of worms by cherry picking one dog breed. It’s a slippery slope.

      • OneTrack

        Ah, we already have banned dog breeds. We just need to add pit bulls to the list.

        And everything is a slippery slope. It should not be a reason to do nothing.

        • Ross

          Yep – the answer is put the owner in a concrete cell for a few months/years and euthanise the animal – in my humble opinion of course.

      • HR

        No,it doesn’t come anywhere near a pitbull. A proper Staffordshire Bull Terrier is bred with temperament front of mind, if done by a reputable breeder. Pitbulls and cross breeds aren’t, generally and that’s a big difference.

        A dog is still a dog, however, people forget this often…..

        • Ross

          I not entirely disagreeing with you regarding physiologoly, but the term “pit bull” encompasses a variety.

          From wiki:
          Pit bull is the common name for a type of dog. Formal breeds often considered in North America to be of the pit bull type include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

          It’s an important distinction to make if legislation is being considered to ban a certain breed.

  • Wendy

    I saw the injuries of young South Auckland boy who was attacked the other week. His cheek was bitten right through and half hanging off. Gut wrenching.
    When children are bitten by bull mastiff-type dogs it is never an accident, it is inevitable. And because of this, it is child abuse.
    We all know very well that these animals are like ticking time bombs waiting to go off, and I cant understand why the people who own these dogs don’t understand that.
    But I am sure they do understand that…because these dogs are bred to be vicious attack dogs used for security and intimidation. Yet their owners knowingly allow innocent, harmless people around the dogs.
    How can people be so stupid that they believe an attack dog will not attack?

    • Union Jack

      Wendy you are dealing with a sub group of the population who do not think and act like normal people.
      These are the same people who will beat their child to death or within an inch of their life just because they had a bad day so you really think they care if their dog does the same thing.
      They are neanderthals and nothing will change this.

      • willtin

        Wendy is a paramedic, if my memory serves me right.

  • Hard1

    If you want to stop the biting, you have to take that risk away by preventing the dog from biting, if that is the desired result. If society just wants to punish owners after the fact, what’s changed? The desired outcome is surely preventing the dog from being able to bite. Yeah, sure, dogs hate being muzzled but they also hate being tied up. So why do we tie them up?. Because they attack people. As a society we have to choose humans first over a dogs freedom. It’s called civilization.

  • Miss Phit

    Its the gun argument but with dogs as the focus.

    It comes down to the owners of the gun/dog. They are responsible for its actions and unfortunately the law abiding ones will be penalised by the crims who dont give a toss and consequently will continue to break the law as they have before regardless of any change in the law.

    Unless it has a real impact on their life. Gaol for the dogs crime would be a start.

    Oh and while we are at it lets address the offending of minors too. Parents should be forced to pay the price for their ward’s behaviour too.

    I bet those two punishments would see a lot of changes in the NZ we live in.

  • willtin

    I have difficulty with the knife analogy. Knives don’t have a brain, and damaged as it might be.