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A 3-year-old boy is in Tauranga Hospital with serious facial injuries after a pitbull dog attacked him.
The dog attacked the boy at a Matapihi property about 8.40am yesterday and police say they are investigating because of the serious nature of the boy's injuries.
It is believed the boy was visiting the Waikari Rd property with his family. The child was playing in a yard in which the dog was secured on a chain.
St John Ambulance officers attended and took the boy to hospital.
Animal control officers seized the dog and police were investigating whether it had a history of violence.
Details of the full extent of the child's injuries had not been released last night.
Police spokeswoman Kim Perks told the Bay of Plenty Times police would be seeking answers from witnesses and medical experts as to the extent of the injuries, how many times the boy was bitten, how long the attack lasted and at what point did someone intervene or whether the boy was able to get away from the animal.
Police would also look at any registration documents relating to the property. "We will then have to make sure that any registration documents actually match the dog involved in the attack," she said.
Police were yet to talk to the child's family and the dog's owners in detail and it remained unclear whether charges would be laid.
"It is too early to speculate on whether there might be charges or what they would be until we know more about the circumstances of the attack."
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said the pitbull was normally tied up but was known to run at people who were nearby.
"I would say the dog was tied up, he [the owner] normally ties it up because school kids go past, and some kid went up to it.
"It would come out when people would cross [the property]. It doesn't bite them, it runs at them," the neighbour said.
The neighbour believed the dog had been living there about a year and young children were often around the property.
- By Ruth Keber of the Bay of Plenty Times