'Friendly little fella' mauled by dog

A community is in shock after a dog mauled a "friendly little fella" yesterday.

Family members said the dog would be put down after the attack on Lani Shepherd, 4, in Beatty St, Otahuhu at about 3.30pm.

Shepherd's shocked father, Orlando, told the Herald on Sunday that the dog was "only a puppy" and had never been aggressive before.

"I don't know what happened." But after the attack he had told Animal Control to put the dog down.

Lani was in Middlemore Hospital.

His grandmother said Lani had injuries just below one eye and would need stitches at least. "Lucky he didn't get it in the eyes. They were playing -- the dog and the boy."

She said Orlando had pulled the dog off Lani.

"The dog's mouth was still on his face."

The grandmother believed the dog was not her son's. "The owner ... I think he's gone to Australia."

Neighbours said the dog had caused trouble in the past week and had snapped a chain it was attached to in the Shepherds' back yard.

Some said they saw scratches on the boy's face a few days earlier and were told the dog was to blame.

Hori Heeney was among those concerned for the boy's welfare. "We asked how the little fella was and they weren't sure what condition he was in," Heeney said. "He's a friendly little fella. He's a nice kid."

Heeney said the dog spent most of its time "just chained up to the tank over there".

Another neighbour said: "It was always barking.

"We've never seen it being taken for a walk or anything."

But one other neighbour said the dog and the boy seemed to have an affectionate relationship.

Jade Leaf from Gisborne was visiting his family in the street yesterday and said he was stunned to see police cars and blood on the inside of the Shepherds' garage door.

"We knew it had something to do with the dog," Leaf said.

- John Weekes of The Herald on Sunday

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