4 Mar 2014

Minister to get advice on dogs

7:54 pm on 4 March 2014

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett is keen to look at what can be done to protect people from dangerous dogs, after what she describes as a horrific mauling left a young girl in intensive care.

The seven-year-old Japanese girl has undergone surgery at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland and remains in intensive care after being attacked by four Staffordshire bull terrier cross dogs at the house of a family friend in Murupara on Monday.

Paula Bennett.

Paula Bennett. Photo: RNZ

Police say the dogs were family pets and the owner took immediate steps for them to be put down.

Police are investigating what may have prompted the attack and say it is too early to say whether any charges will be laid.

The girl was taken by a neighbour to a medical centre and flown to Rotorua Hospital by rescue helicopter to be stabilised and then transferred to Middlemore in Auckland.

The rescue helicopter pilot says about 90 percent of the girl's face was damaged and she had puncture wounds to both arms, her legs and her hip and pelvis area.

Whakatane district mayor Tony Bonne says he believes certain breeds of dog should be banned. However, Mrs Bennett says that seems simplistic but she will look into it.

"It's horrific for that wee girl and her family and for the whole community. I am keen to have another look and I mean anything we can do to stop horrific attacks like this but it's an incredibly complex area. It's not as simple as banning a breed."

Mrs Bennett says she is taking advice about what can be done.

Ann Byers, president of a national club for Staffordshire Bull Terriers, says the breed isn't dangerous and banning them isn't necessary. She says there is always a knee-jerk response after an attack like this.