Francesca Harris and her dog Gee, which was attacked while running up the Maitai. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Vigilance needed over increased dog attacks

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Gee the German Pointer gets nervous when she passes another dog on a walking trail.

Gee was attacked by two dogs up the Maitai last September. She underwent two surgeries, had a 30cm wound with a drain in it for two weeks and needed around the clock surveillance.

Her owner, Francesca Harris, says nearly one year on Gee has made a full recovery physically, but she can still get anxious around other dogs.

The offending dogs and their owner were eventually identified, and it turned out Gee wasn’t their first victim.

Thanks to Francesca, the dogs have been classified as menacing by Nelson City Council and must wear muzzles.

“I feel better knowing I’ve done all I can to protect others against future attacks from these animals,” she says.

According to the council’s dog control activity reports, there are more dogs attacks in Nelson than ever before.

There are 5770 registered dogs in Nelson, with 52 attacks on animals and 34 attacks on humans being reported in the last year.

Just last month, a two-year-old was attacked by a dog in Atawhai. That dog has not been found.

Council dog control manager Brent Edwards says the responsibility comes down to dog owners.

“Dog owners need to know that they are responsible, but should also be aware of behaviours such as increasing aggression.”

Todd Field from Halifax Veterinary Centre says they see, on average, two dog attacks per week – and the number is growing.

He says most dog attacks happen because of poor socialisation skills – not because they are a certain breed.

“We try to get owners to socialise their dogs, and teach them boundaries early on.”

Meanwhile, Gee and Francesca hope to continue their runs up The Maitai in peace.

“We love meeting the other dogs in the area and believe it’s only a small minority ruining it for others,” Francesa says. “Now I just need to convince Gee of that.”