Carolina Anderson has a message of hope for 7-year-old
Sakurako Uehara from Japan. Photo / Marty Melville
A teenager savaged by a dog 11 years ago has spoken out
about the frightening attack in Murupara, telling the
7-year-old Japanese victim to "just hold on".
Sakurako Uehara was mauled on Monday by four Staffordshire
bull terrier-cross dogs at a family friend's home.
Last night, she was in a critical but stable condition in
intensive care at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.
Carolina Anderson, now 18, was attacked by a similar breed in
2003 when she, too, was seven years old.
"I'm really upset that it's happened again 11 years later. It
should have been dealt with a lot earlier. These attacks have
happened, even after me, and nothing has really been done.
"I'm a bit against those breeds. I think they should be
banned completely. Those dogs, if something triggers them,
they just latch on and don't let go."
Sakurako, who was to have flown home with her parents to
Japan today, was playing on a family friend's property when
she was attacked by four dogs belonging to the property
Whakatane District Council dog control official Graeme Lewer
said there was no record of the dogs having attacked anyone
A vet destroyed them after the attack.
Last night, Miss Anderson said Sakurako faced "a long road".
"If she does survive, [my message is] it does gradually get
better. Time is the cure ... Just hold on."
Initially, the operations and injuries would be exhausting,
Then later, as she became more aware of herself and the
scars, the little girl could go through psychological
"The operations, for me, were really tough. It takes a really
long time, especially if they're big ones.
"If you're a kid, you want to get outside and play, but you
can't because of the risk of infections. It's hard it stops
you being a kid, in some ways.
"[But] she's young, so in a way that's a small good thing.
Her face is still growing, and she won't really care about
her appearance that much. I didn't in primary school."
Later, though, the damage the dog's teeth inflicted did
"I remember people looking at me and I didn't know why, and
comments younger kids said. Even quite recently, there could
be boys that would say something ... I had to get counselling
a few years ago."
This week, more than 10 years after she was savaged by an
American Staffordshire terrier, the Auckland teenager started
an architecture degree at Victoria University.
"I've finally moved on, but it's taken 11 years. Finally,
that part of my life, that's over."
She had operations every year since the attack, she said,
until deciding recently "I don't really want them anymore".
Five breeds of dog are banned in New Zealand, but Miss
Anderson said more should be added to the list.
The "Staffy" breeds - like those involved in this week's
attack and hers - and other large attack breeds should be
"People say it's the owners' fault, that it's the way they
treat their dogs, but it's not, necessarily. I think it's
really more just the dog itself. When [big, aggressive dogs]
attack it's really bad because the injuries they inflict are
way different than if it was a tiny Chihuahua or something.
They're so strong, you can't do anything."
When she was being mauled in 2003, her father struggled to
wrestle the dog off her, she said.
"I can't even imagine four dogs [like those that attacked
Sakurako]. I don't know how she didn't die."
Her call to have more dogs declared illegal was echoed
yesterday by Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne.
"I believe there's some dogs out there that have got that
fighting technique streak in them and shouldn't be around,"
he told Radio New Zealand.
A law change in 2003 banned imports of the American pitbull
terrier, dogo Argentino, Brazilian fila, and Japanese tosa.
In 2001 another breed, the perro de presa canario, was also
banned by an order in council agreed by Parliament.
Sakurako was enrolled at Murapara's Maori immersion school Te
Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau.
Principal Pem Bird said her family were in the process of
gaining permanent residency and had bought property in
Local Government Minister Paula Bennett said she was
considering whether dog control regulations needed to be