Housing Minister Nick Smith says there will be a review
of an attack by a dog at a Housing New Zealand property in
Auckland that left a young boy hospitalised.
Dogs are banned from Housing New Zealand properties - unless
there are exceptional circumstances.
Shepherd Mea, 4, suffered multiple bite wounds to his head,
including his face, in an attack late on Saturday afternoon
behind his home in Beatty St, Otahuhu.
Yesterday, he was moved from the intensive care unit at
Middlemore Hospital, where his condition was serious but
stable, to one of the hospital's Kidz First children's wards.
His mother, Katarina Kopa, who lives elsewhere in Otahuhu
with her own mother, Ngawai Henare-Hohepa, said her boy, whom
she calls "Little Man", had had one operation and more were
Ms Henare-Hohepa said Shepherd's father, Orlando, had
described the attack to her.
"He was cooking dinner. Little Man was playing out the back.
He just heard him screaming. The dog was barking a lot. He
went running out and the dog had his [Shepherd's] head in his
mouth. The dog was thrashing him around in his mouth. All the
injuries are around his head and face.
"He was being dragged around.
"He [Orlando] grabbed a shovel and started smashing the dog.
The dog ran and attacked him. He managed to get the dog away
from his son and he picked his son up and rang the ambulance
Ms Kopa, 23, who has three other children, said after seeing
her boy in hospital yesterday: "He's all right. He's way
better than yesterday. He's awake and he can talk a little
"The first thing he said to me was, 'Mummy, the dog bit me'.
"A plastic surgeon came to talk to me. They have already done
some stitches. They said there's a serious one [wound] at the
back of his head."
One eye had been injured and a nerve damaged.
Ms Kopa said she was "mad and sad" about the attack but "I'm
just glad that he is alive".
She said people should not be permitted to have violent dogs.
People at the Beatty St house yesterday said the boy's family
were not there. The large, brown dog is reportedly a pitbull.
An Auckland Council spokeswoman said Animal Control Services
had taken the dog and was investigating the incident. A
decision had not been made on whether it would be put down.
A Beatty St neighbour said she noticed the "quite massive"
dog a fortnight ago and stopped her 6-year-old son from
playing in their own backyard because the wire-netting fence
was not secure.
Minister: Review of case needed
Housing New Zealand has a no-dog policy, in which tenants are
allowed to keep dogs only in exceptional circumstances, such
as sight or hearing dogs.
Housing Minister Nick Smith told Radio New Zealand today the
incident was an "awful tragedy" and he wanted a review of the
case to see if there was anything more that could have done.
"I'm happy to have a review of the case and see whether there
are any lessons Housing New Zealand can learn to make our
homes safer from these sorts of dog attack," he said.
The dog had only been at the address for a few weeks, Dr
"I'm interested to know whether any Housing New Zealand
tenants reported the breach of policy to Housing New Zealand,
or to anybody else.
"It's not that Housing New Zealand is responsible, but
wherever possible we want to be providing safe-havens for
children and not having these sorts of incidents."
Dr Smith said he understood the father had other dogs at the
address in February.
"And that's why he was reminded of the policy at that time."
Dr Smith said the no-dog policy was being enforced.
"I can assure that it is being enforced because I get dozens
of letters every week from people that are upset with Housing
New Zealand," he said.
Tenants who did not get rid of a dog were given notice and
required to cease their tenancy. However, that was an extreme
• Around 12,000 people a year seek medical treatment for dog
• July 19 - Caleb Heka, 17, mauled by his pitbull in West
• July - 5-year-old Greymouth girl had surgery after a dog
bit a chunk out of her face.
• March - Sakurako Uehara, aged 7, was mauled at Murupara by
four Staffordshire bull terrier-cross dogs. She faces years
of reconstructive surgery to repair extensive wounds from
bites to her face, limbs and almost every part of her body.