Six badly bitten by police dogs

A young Dunedin boy needed hospital treatment after being attacked by an escaped police dog, it has been revealed.

The incident was among six serious injuries caused by police dog bites in the Southern district during the past five years, information released under the Official Information Act has revealed.

The young boy suffered serious injuries requiring hospital treatment and the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) was alerted after the attack in March 2011.

The boy was bitten after the dog escaped its fenced exercise area at the officer's Dunedin home. He was playing nearby when the dog bit him.

A police spokesman said the dog was taken out of service as a result of the attack.

Three issues with police policy and practice were identified and improved as a result.

‘‘These were: inspection of all dog handlers' kennels; strengthening of policy relating to kennelling of dogs; and developing policy and practice guidelines relating to investigating dog bite incidents,'' the spokesman said.

Police would not comment on the boy's injuries ‘‘for privacy and medical reasons apart from saying the injuries were serious'', the spokesman said.

An IPCA spokeswoman said the authority was notified of the attack but did not independently investigate the matter.‘‘We monitored and reviewed the police investigation and wrote to the family and the Commissioner at the conclusion of our review,'' she said.

The authority did not give its reasons for not investigating the matter and referred all other comment to police.

The information released under the Act showed the other serious injuries caused by Southern police dogs were while they were operational.

In June, a 28-year-old man was taken to hospital after a police dog was needed to arrest him.

He fled the scene of a car crash and spent 30 minutes running from police while being tracked by the dog.

‘‘He tried to evade arrest, made threats and continued his flight before the police dog was released to apprehend him,'' the police said.

‘‘He was taken to hospital, treated and then arrested on multiple charges.''

In April 2014, a 20-year-old man needed surgery after attacking a police dog while under the influence of synthetic drugs.

He became violent and left his home. The dog tracked him for over 1km before finding him in a farm building.

‘‘The youth physically attacked the dog and was bitten on the upper thigh area.''

In 2012, police dogs caused serious injuries on two occasions - one in June after a domestic incident and the other in December after three youths fled a stolen car - both resulting in the males being treated and discharged from hospital.

In April 2011, a 38-year-old was taken to hospital after being bitten while resisting arrest. He was in possession of a knife at the time.

Police dogs were involved in another 32 incidents involving bites in the Southern district, but none caused injury.

Eighteen of the incidents involved dogs from the Dunedin section and 14 involved dogs from the Invercargill section.

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