Boy’s Ear Reattached After Pit Bull Attack

A Canterbury District Health Board spokeswoman said the boy was recovering and in a comfortable position after the surgery in Christchurch Hospital.

It would not be known for a few days whether the operation was a success.

The toddler was attacked by the dog at Lake Crichton, 6km south-east of Dunsandel, about 3.30pm on Wednesday. The boy’s ear was ripped off in the attack.

Leeston Senior Constable Rob Stuart said the dog, a one-year-old pure-bred Staffordshire bull terrier, was owned by family friends with whom the Australian tourists were staying on their visit to Mid-Canterbury.

A Selwyn District Council animal control spokeswoman said the one-year-old male dog was registered and they were not aware of previous problems with the animal.

“The dog is impounded at the moment and we’re awaiting a decision from the police on what course of action to take.” Stuart said it would be up to the courts to decide the fate of the dog, although generally dogs were destroyed when there was a serious injury.

Hornby Detective Sergeant Ross Tarawhiti said it appeared the boy had been rough-housing with his father on the ground when the dog attacked.

“The father was playing with the child on the ground when the dog has decided he will join in,” Tarawhiti said.

Police were investigating whether charges would be laid against the dog’s owners.

Animal behaviorist Mark Vette said Staffordshire bull terriers were generally good-natured around people.

However, a lot depended on how they were trained when young, with the time between one and four months crucial.

“If they miss socialisation through that period, it’s a problem,” he said.

“Particularly with kids. If they don’t grow up and interact with kids, then they treat them as a different species.”

That could lead to the innocent actions of a child being misinterpreted by a dog, he said.

“Children behave in ways a dog can interpret as a threat.”


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