Number of dogs that can be walked in packs under review after fatal mauling

5:14 am on 1 May 2024
Kippa the dog.

Kippa was fatally injured by two dogs at an east Auckland park. Photo: Supplied / Barbara Wright

A dog walking company has removed its Facebook page after a beloved family pet was attacked and killed by two dogs in its care at an east Auckland park.

Auckland's Animal Management is now reviewing the number of dogs that can be walked in a pack and an investigation into the fatal mauling is underway.

Whitford resident Barbara Wright is calling for a tighter leash on dog walkers after her terrier was fatally injured.

Wright was walking her dogs, Hugo and Kippa, on the Porterfield Road Bridleway when the attack occurred.

"We saw four huge dogs and they just ran at us," she said.

"Three of the dogs bit down really hard. The first dog I kicked in the chest and it dropped her, so I then tried to pick her up but the middle dog grabbed her and did exactly the same."

Hugo, a three year old Jack Russell Terrier, managed to escape the maul, but Kippa, an elderly Cairn Terrier, was seriously injured.

"[Kippa] was crying in agony and I could see blood coming out of her mouth," she said.

"I picked her up and held her close to my chest, she was panting for breath."

Wright said the attacking dogs were in the care of local pet sitting company Stimulated K9.

But with a number of dogs tied to their waist and many more off leash, the walker lost control.

"There was a lady that came around the corner with three dogs [attached] to her waist," Wright said.

"The force of the three dogs trying to get to the maul she fell over onto her backside. She was clearly out of control. There was a pack of 14 dogs [with her] in all..."

Kippa could not be saved.

"[Kippa] had a ruptured cruciate ligament, all her ribs were crushed, a punctured lung and a punctured bowel," she said.

"It just wasn't fair to keep her alive in the end, there was going to be no hope so unfortunately I had to put her to sleep."

Kippa the dog.

Kippa's injuries were extensive and painful, a vet says. Photo: Supplied / Barbara Wright

Wright's vet, Dr Rosemary Price, confirmed to RNZ that Kippa was in good health for her age and did not have any existing health issues before the attack.

"The injuries she suffered were extensive and painful," Price said.

"There is no reason, that we know of, that Kippa could not have lived out her days with her owner if this attack had not occurred."

Stimulated K9 declined RNZ's request for comment but acknowledged that the attack was under investigation. RNZ understands the dog walker was not the owner but an employee of the company.

Wright said the company had compensated her for most of the vet expenses, but the attack had traumatised her family.

"I've got my daughter flying up from Dunedin because she can't believe that her family dog has died after 13 years. It's horrendous what has happened to us as a family," she said.

"I'm having nightmares, I have to go to therapy because I keep hearing the noise of [Kippa] whining and her bones breaking... the noise was horrendous."

Kippa and Hugo.

Kippa and Hugo. Photo: Supplied / Barbara Wright

Another resident who was in the park that day but asked not to be named said it was dangerous for Stimulated K9 to continue walking dogs in such large groups.

"There were a lot of dogs, I'd say easily 15 to 20 big breed dogs. There seems to be no regulation around how many dogs these walkers can take and what sort of training is required," they said.

"Families use that trail... with children so young they can't even pedal their bikes. Those dogs, if they chased one of those children like they've chased dogs and horses... they would kill a child, there's no doubt about it."

They said the community was so concerned that they started warning each other when the dog walkers were present.

"If we see her car there we turn around and go to a different trail," they said. "We'll post a picture on [Facebook] and just say 'Be aware, the Stimulated K9 dog walker is on the path so don't use it'."

East Auckland Animal Management leader Angie Castro said there was not a legal limit to the number of dogs that could be walked at once, but she said Auckland Council was reviewing its rules after receiving multiple complaints.

"There is no regulation right now, although what I can tell you is that the bylaw is being reviewed and one of the considerations is limiting dog walkers' ability to walk any number of dogs," she said.

Castro said Animal Management was investigating the attack and was likely to prosecute the dog walker.

"The dog walker is considered an 'owner' under the act, a person in possession of the dog. The business, of course, will be looked into. We'll take a statement from the business owner," she said.

"[Since] the victim dog died, then the likelihood is that the decision will be to prosecute. It would go to court and the dog walker would be charged."

Castro noted that the case was a hot topic throughout the Whitford community.

"There's a lot of Facebook posts about this, not just from the individuals involved in the case but regular people who are interested in what will happen... So we're taking it really seriously," she said.

Two of the dogs involved in the attack had been classified as menacing, meaning they needed to be muzzled in public.

Stimulated K9 has removed its social media profiles.

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