Pit bulls can be lethal

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

A COU­PLE whose dog was fa­tally mauled by pit bulls is plead­ing with own­ers of the dan­ger­ous breed to take the risks se­ri­ously.

‘‘It doesn’t mat­ter how well the owner knows the dog. Those dogs have a ten­dency to snap and will do what they want,’’ Kylie Hop­pen­jans says.

‘‘I’ve seen what they can do.’’

Her three-year-old ter­rier cross, Tilly, was set upon by two pit bulls in an ac­cess way leading from Mt Royal Ave to Owairaka Do­main on Fe­bru­ary 17.

The two at­tack­ing dogs and a third pit bull were let off their leashes by their owner mo­ments be­fore the at­tack, Ms Hop­pen­jan’s part­ner Ja­son Tsang says.

‘‘They just started cir­cling Tilly. It was kind of fran­tic. And then there was bit­ing and Tilly was yelp­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘I was scream­ing at the owner to get them off.

‘‘I think he was as scared as I was.’’

Tilly was cov­ered in deep gashes and died dur­ing surgery.

The two pit bulls have been im­pounded by an­i­mal con­trol and Auck­land Coun­cil’s le­gal team is re­view­ing the case.

The owner of the dogs went with Mr Tsang and Ms Hop­pen­jans to the vet on the night of the at­tack and helped pay for Tilly’s care.

The cou­ple want to en­cour­age oth­ers to take dan­ger­ous dogs se­ri­ously. Pit bulls are clas­si­fied by law in New Zealand as men­ac­ing dogs. They must wear muz­zles in pub­lic places in Auck­land and must be neutered.

‘‘I know pit bulls get a rough time, but they are worse,’’ Mr Tsang says.

‘‘I’d hate to think this could hap­pen to a child,’’ Ms Hop­pen­jans says.

Mr Tsang finds it ‘‘just un­be­liev­able’’ that the pit bulls who at­tacked Tilly were not on leashes.

‘‘If they were, hope­fully the worst sit­u­a­tion would have been one bite be­fore it could be pulled away.’’

Mr Tsang and Ms Hop­pen­jans only adopted Tilly from an an­i­mal res­cue cen­tre three months ago.

‘‘It’s been tough,’’ Mr Tsang says.

‘‘She made a big dif­fer­ence to our lives,’’ Ms Hop­pen­jans says.

SPCA Auck­land ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Bob Kerridge says it’s not un­com­mon for people to turn a blind eye to the risks as­so­ci­ated with pit bulls.

‘‘There is this sort of feel­ing that ‘my dog isn’t like that; some oth­ers might be, but mine’s not’.’’

‘‘The law has stepped in here and said there are some breeds that are men­ac­ing.

‘‘Own­ers’ heads are in the sand a bit it if they don’t re­alise it’s a men­ac­ing dog, or abide by the law.’’

Photo: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Take note: Ja­son Tsang and Kylie Hop­pen­jans want people to take dog safety se­ri­ously af­ter their beloved pet was killed by pit bulls.

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