Dog attack: Woman fights Tauranga council’s menacing dog ruling after Facebook buyer bitten

The Tauranga City Council, headquartered on Cameron Rd, issued a menacing dog classification after a woman was attacked in Gate Pa. Photo / Alex Cairns

The Tauranga owner of a bulldog-cross named Spud that attacked a visitor has lost her bid to quash a menacing dog classification.

Dayna Osborne, of Gate Pa, appealed the classification notice issued by the Tauranga City Council on May 23.

It followed an investigation into Spud, a 6-year-old American bulldog-cross, attacking a woman visiting Osborne’s rented property on March 27.

The council’s Regulatory Hearings Panel heard evidence on Monday from Osborne and Brent Lincoln, the council’s team leader of animal services.


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The classification meant Osborne must ensure Spud was always muzzled and controlled on a leash when in public.

All dogs classified as menacing must be also neutered. Spud was neutered and microchipped at the time of the attack, the panel was told.

Lincoln told the panel of chairwoman Mary Dillon and members Puhirake Ihaka, Terry Molloy and Alan Tate, that Osborne accepted her dog attacked a visitor who was collecting an item she had bought on Facebook.

The victim did not attend the hearing but made a written complaint to the council.


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In her statement, the victim said as she walked up to the house, a dog came “shooting out of the house” through an open door to the deck, barking.

She said the dog jumped off the deck and attacked her, biting her hand and causing puncture wounds, bruising and swelling.

The dog was secured by a man and taken inside the house.

She said she had to have time off work due to her injuries.

Lincoln told the panel Osborne and the council agreed that her dog was not secured inside the house before it ran outside when the visitor arrived and bit her hand.

There was a disagreement about whether the victim had tried to pat Spud. Lincoln, however, said that was not relevant in terms of the Dog Control Act, he said, as under the legislation a dog that bit a person would have to be leashed in public.

Despite Osborne knowing her dog was fearful and anxious around strangers, she had not secured Spud before the visitor arrived, he said.

Brent Lincoln, team leader of Tauranga City Council’s animal services. Photo / NZME

Lincoln said generally speaking, the nature of Spud’s behaviour around people and dogs posed “more of a risk” than overtly aggressive dogs – particularly after Spud had already bitten someone.

He said that was why the council decided a menacing dog classification was appropriate.

Panelist Ihaka said in his experience if a dog was fearful or anxious around strangers, that could trigger this type of behaviour.


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Lincoln agreed: “In this case, if the dog had been kept inside of the house this incident would not have happened.”

Osborne urged the panel to lift the classification, citing no prior history of aggression by her dog and the efforts she had made to prevent this from happening.

Osborne said she was upstairs when the attack happened and her partner was waiting for the buyer to arrive, but she came later than arranged.

Spud escaped from the house after her partner left a door slightly open, and she said she felt let down by him, Osborne said.

“Spud has had a lot of trauma in his past life with people trying to pet him and being attacked by other dogs,” she said.

Osborne said Spud had undergone two surgeries because of previous attacks and he did not like other dogs and strangers coming on to their property.


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“We have spent a lot of time trying to retrain him to be less anxious and fearful.”

Osborne said they moved to Tauranga in February last year but, unfortunately, school children and neighbours were coming into their backyard to engage with Spud, adding to his fear and anxiety.

Because of his mental health issues, they moved to another rental property, which was unfenced so Spud spent most of the time inside the house.

“Our problem is other dogs trying to get to him and people coming up to him and trying to touch him and he usually runs away.

“I have signs up saying ‘Don’t pat the dog’ and Spud also wears a customised collar warning people not to do so.

“I feel we are doing everything we can to manage his behaviour and the situation to prevent anything like this from happening again.”


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Osborne told the panel she accepted responsibility for what happened and had reimbursed the injured woman’s medical costs.

“This is the first time my dog has done something like this and we are working with our landlord to get changes made to the property to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

On Friday, Lincoln confirmed he had been informed that the panel upheld the menacing dog classification ruling and the written decision would be available for release shortly.

Sandra Conchie is a senior journalist at the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post who has been a journalist for 24 years. She mainly covers police, court and other justice stories, as well as general news. She has been a Canon Media Awards regional/community reporter of the year.

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