Dog victim's anger over new attack

Carolina Anderson has a message of hope for 7-year-old Sakurako Uehara from Japan. Photo / Marty Melville
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 owner.

Whakatane District Council dog control official Graeme Lewer said there was no record of the dogs having attacked anyone before.

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, she said.

Then later, as she became more aware of herself and the scars, the little girl could go through psychological distress.

"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 matter.

"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 included.

"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 Murupara.

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett said she was considering whether dog control regulations needed to be improved.


Nearly 12,000 ACC payouts for dog attacks

Is the stat interpreted, Everlast? Victim needs to lay a complaint with police to enable. Dog owners are subject to the Dog Control Act.

There have been opportunities

Hype, I know many from one end on the spectrum to the other. I have worked in this city, serving the people, for over 35 years in positions from the coal face to management ,almost every day, serving in excess of 100 people.

Over this period I have got to meet all sorts from the wealthiest to the most obnoxious. Call me well versed.

I'm a (mostly) law-abiding citizen and have purchased all my firearms legally - not that there haven't been opportunities.

You are right though, that locks only keep the honest out. A dog and a firearm keeps the rest out.[Abridged]


" If you think its that hard to obtain an illegal firearm, you need to think again." 
Depends, speedfreak43.  Depends on who you know.  If you only mix with law-abiding people it is that hard. On the other hand if you know with people who aren't all that bothered about laws you won't have much trouble finding one.  Someone might even be obliging enough to burgle one from a law-abiding person, especially for you! As the saying goes, locks keep honest people out.

Funny thing happened this morning

I received a visitor with a pitbull. Said pitbull ran around and played with my dog for 2 hours and there was no agression at all. My 10-year-old and his buddy were here and guess what? They both still have their faces intact. In fact, the worst part was when it jumped on my lap and licked my face from top to bottom. I was terrified - not.

And a wee note to Clare. If you think its that hard to obtain an illegal firearm, you need to think again. There's likely as many illegal ones as there are legal ones in this country.

The responsible society

The responsible society is a Utopian dream: Anarchism, in which people are so grown up, they dont need Government or law. Fighting dogs are selectively bred. Training? 'Get 'em, Rover!' does it. BMC, I'm sorry, this is not idealogical. It is about safety. Until attack breeds are banned, carry a big stick.

Ban not the solution

I'm sorry Clare, but bad people will always find a way to do bad things. You say we should get rid of the breeds that people use for dog fighting - do you honestly think that these people will instantly reform and be model citizens? I'll put money on them just using another breed.
It's much like the ever-increasing controls on legitamate firearms users, because a minority misuse/abuse them. I see there was an assult with a hammer reported today. Perhaps we could ban hammers now as well, eh?
We don't need more committees, more studies or more laws. We just need to make people responsible for their actions.

How many more?

How many more children need to be savaged by these dangerous breeds before something is done? It is all very well, pointing out the dog's or the owner's faults - that line of thinking doesn't help anybody, least of all the victims. A solution must be found.

It is very clear to me that these so-called fighting breeds are not fit to be around children. Also, why on earth, would four of them be on one property? That seems excessive to me. 

It is nothing to be proud of, to hear that this little girl has suffered the worst dog attack ever seen in this country. For a minute, just try to imagine how the parents must feel.

Less talk and more action is needed, so this never happens again.

I'm a dog owner

Its difficult enough educating people in how to bring up children, let alone dogs.  It's much easier to get rid of the breeds that have the ability to do the most damage when they do attack (for whatever reason they attack - lack of training, defence or an aggressive tendency). Start with pitbulls, and I have no problem seeing that go on to rotweillers and bulldogs. There will still be a hundred other breeds for people to choose from. 

Interesting you mention guns - maybe thats why we have gun laws and why guns are not readily available.  And even MacDonalds have succumbed to pressure and have healthy food options.

I'm an animal lover and think its terrible what some people do to animals, but a dog defending itself is quite a different thing to a pack of dogs attacking a little girl.  Calvin, you touch on another good reason to ban certain breeds - there are those among us that train dogs (commonly pitbulls, as you say) to fight.  They choose particular breeds because they know those breeds are the most aggressive and the best at fighting. 

Get rid of the breeds these horrible people favour and make this weird sport more difficult and not so interesting. Unfortunately no consequence in terms of fines or convictions is going to change these people. 


False dichotomy

This conversation seems to be animated by a false dichotomy that it is either the breed or the dog owner, when I think most people would agree that it's some combination of the two, and that the government should both ban breeds with a propensity for violence and exert much stricter regulations/punishments for dog owners.

There is a feedback loop here. Dogs with reputations for aggression appeal to the wrong sort of people (often men with masculinity issues), who in turn malsocialize the dogs as a reflection of themselves. It's nature and nurture. Yes, most bites probably occur from Labs, but this is likely the result of the popularity/frequency of the breed. And how many Labs (or any number of other breeds that do happen to bite people) actually rip the faces off children?

I grew up in a country with much more stringent dog laws, where having a dog off leash in a public place (outside of a dog park) was not tolerated. I've frequently been on a beach or in other public places in NZ where dogs are off lead and running up to people and children who have no idea of the dog's disposition. Dog owners seem to have this attitude that others are as familiar/comfortable with and trusting of their pets as they are, and actually act indignant when people express displeasure at being approached by their out of control dog, offering reassurances like "he's just being friendly," etc.

And then of course every time there is an attack we are subjected to the incredulous testimony of the owner who can't believe their dog would ever do that. Dog owners are the ones who need to wake up and realise that just because they treat their dogs like family members, it does not make them social persons. It does not behove the rest of us to become dog experts to insist that the state protect us from them. Dog ownership, like driving, should be a heavily regulated privilege, not a right.  

Remember when?

Remember when the German Shepherd, rotties, dobermans, ridgebacks etc were called dangerous dogs and there were cries from people to have them banned? Now they are regarded as being among the best family dogs in the world.
Believe it or not one of the most dangerous dogs in the world today is the Chihuahua - they have been known to kill small children, attack adults and leave very nasty damage when they do attack. But I don't see anyone calling for them to be banned.
I was attacked by a pitbull and lost a large part of my left leg when the dog went to attack a small girl who had let the dog out of its room while the owner was away. I picked the kid up so the dog could not get to her. End result - dog decided my leg looked OK to eat. But this is the only pitbull (and I have had a lot to do with this breed) that I have ever found to be aggressive. The owner put the dog down the same day.
In years to come the humble pitbull will no longer be the dog everyone wants to ban, and a new dog will takes its place. Maybe we should be looking at the laws that allow any old person to befriend a dog and take it home to be part of the family unit.

And that's the problem

That is my point and case right there! people would rather get rid of a breed rather than actually fix the problem! The animal is subject to agressive behavior because that is how they are raised! wake up! 

What about the next breed?

Pitbulls are at the top of the list of attacks because owners train them to fight! If we get rid of pitbulls the same owners will use rotweillers, then when we get rid of that breed they will move on to bulldogs and so on.
Why is it so hard for people to see that it is the human that is responsible? Is it the gun's fault when someone gets shot or is it the idiot that pulled the trigger? Is it Macdonalds fault that people are fat or is it the person's fault for eating it?
There are two other stories on this website about people intentionally harming dogs - one by spraying oven cleaner in the dogs face and the other one trying to beat a puppy to death. Is it any wonder dogs feel they need to defend themselves? And when they do they get killed for it!
It's time we accept that it is our responsibility and that it is the human that needs to face the consequences of an attack, not the dog. The second people are properly held to account for what their dogs do the number of attacks will drop. [Abridged]

vicious dogs

Quite agree, these killer breeds - staffie, pitbull, mastiff - should become extinct in NZ. If irresponsible owners cannot euthanise them, then make sterilization compulsory, so that they will eventuially die out. For the sake of our chidren.

Why is it disturbing Calvin?

Why does it matter if certain breeds are banned? There will still be heaps of dog breeds to choose from.

what people are saying is it doesn't really matter the reason - whether its poor control from owners or a breed that can turn viscious.  Yes all breeds can be vicious in fact some of the snappiest bossy dogs are the smallest ones but the difference is those ones physically don't have the ability to kill or seriously injure people. 

Yep - heard it all before about pitbulls being good family dogs and labradors biting the most.   I imagine the statistics of labradors biting the most is probably because there are so many of them,  they are probably the world's most popular dog and therefore a whole lot more of them in the world to bite.  

BUT can you find statistics to show how many labradors have killed or seriously mauled people compared to pitbulls?  

Ditto dont care

It may be that those of us 'obviously not dog owners' were being responsible parents/grandparents. Nothing genetically hard wired can be 'trained', but have the intelligence to pretend they are.

Don't care

Don't care whose responsibility it is, but because the animal is suject to agressive behaviour we should phase those dogs out. You cannot imagine the fear of knowing such a dog exists in your neighbourhood.  You simply dont go out.  it is excruciating. Get rid of those breeds of dogs.

Dangerous dogs

I love dogs. My last dog lived for seventeen years and his passing was like losing a family member. I do think however that there are dogs such as pitbulls which are unpredictable and even surprise their loving owners when they attack without provocation. These dogs are bred to fight and to be aggressive regardless of what a great family pet their owners may think they have. Look at fatal dog attacks in the USA - the list is top heavy with pitbulls or pitbull crosses.
I am not advocating all pitbulls should be destroyed but all those remaining pitbulls should be desexed and the breed  should be phased out in NZ. It is true that many owners should not have dogs, but it is also true that what some dog owners thought were loving family pets attacked and sometimes killed or injured their children.

Quite right

Quite right, Calvin. Obviously, the three previous posts come from people with little experience as dog owners. Woild they also blame the car and not the driver in high speed crashes that cause fatalities?

A dog is a "pack animal" and if the owner is unable to assert themselves as "alpha dog", the dog will beleive that it is. Strong-minded dogs need a stronger-minded owner or you end up with this situation. I have owned large breed dogs for 25 years and at some stage, often around 2 years old for large dogs, they need to be put in their place. Often, in the case of a female owner, this is not done and the dog will usually not obey them.

Case in point: my ex-wife had a boxer lab cross. When she yelled at it, the dog would completely ignore her and look to me for direction. Consequently, when I left, I took her dog with me as I knew she couldn't control it.

Just where was the alpha male owner in this situation? 

It's our own fault

It is really disturbing to see people wanting to ban certain breeds of dog when the actual problem is the owners.

Every time there is an animal attack it is the fault of the human. The blame needs to be taken away from the dogs and put squarely on the owners. Unless we address the problem of bad owners the problem will never go away. You can ban all the breeds you want but people will always find new breeds to raise incorrectly and attacks will keep on occuring!

It may interest people to know that pitbulls are rated by experts in the top 3 breeds of dog for family pets because of their nature and loyalty, and the number one dog for biting people world wide is actually the labrador! If you blame the breed you have no idea what you are talking about.

Ban those dogs

It's amazing we still allow such beasts to roam among us. We take more care to address bio problems than we do about what can hurt human beings.

These pit bulls and violent streaked dogs need to be banned from our communities.  They attack children at the drop of a hat and freak the old people out.

Surely that can happen. 

Cattle prod for attack dogs

I agree, Clare. Attack breeds are out of control, and it looks like owning such breeds is irresponsible. The only effective defence is a makeshift electrified cattle prod, kept in the vicinity of attack dogs. This would not help a child victim, but it would be a start.

What can we do?

How many of these attacks does it take before our govt outlaws these dogs that cause so much harm.  I have given up on govt and I am wondering if it might be better for people to lobby councils to make local laws banning them and for councils to then put pressure on govt.   If all city councils did the same thing govt might start to listen. 

Miss Anderson is correct it's not just the owners its the type of dog, all dogs have the potential to bite but only a few have the potential to kill.   As I have said before I'd rather be mauled by a spaniel than a staffy. There are so many variation of dogs we don't need these types of dogs.

How to do it some may ask.... with cross breeding it will have to be based on recognising features and any dog with features of dangerous breeds should not be allowed to breed.  After about 10 years the country will be much safer from these sorts of attacks and it will hopefully wipe out organised dog fighting too.  We are lucky in NZ - with no land borders for dogs to be sneaked across we could do it. 

If you care about this talk to your local councillors. 

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