Richard Woodd and Jayne Hulbert | May 2, 2007
A feisty Jack Russell terrier has given his life to save five children from a mauling by two savage pit bulls.
The tiny dog leapt to the defence of the children -- aged between four and 11 -- when the two dogs threatened them on the way to a dairy in Manaia, New Zealand, on Sunday.
The attack was the final straw for the South Taranaki District Council, which says it intends hunting down all dangerous and unregistered dogs and neutering them.
Richard Rosewarne, 11, the oldest of the children, said the pit bulls came up behind them and were going for his brother Darryl Wilson, 4.
"George tried to protect us by barking and rushing at them, but they started to bite him - one on the head and the other on the back.
"We ran off crying and some people saw what was happening and rescued George."
But nine-year-old George was so badly ripped apart he had to be put down.
Vet Steven Hopkinson, of the South Taranaki Animal Health Services, said the injuries were the worst he had seen.
George's owner Alan Gay, 69, says his dog died a hero.
"These two pit bulls rushed up and were going for the little boy. George went for them, it's what he would do. He didn't stand a chance, but I reckon he saved that boy from being chewed up.
"These pit bulls should be banned. They're killers and it comes from them being bred for fighting."
Mr. Gay lives alone and George had been his faithful companion for about seven years. He inherited George as a young dog after his former neighbours moved away.
The dogs disappeared after the attack, but yesterday dog rangers removed two pit bulls from a Manaia property.
South Taranaki environment services manager Graham Young says they are fairly certain the dogs were involved in Sunday's attack.
The dogs are in the pound and the council will be seeking the animals' destruction.
"Council will also be looking at a prosecution of the owners," Mr Young said.
In the past two months, four separate incidents have been reported in Manaia of pit bulls attacking other dogs and menacing children.
However, Mr Young said it was unknown whether the two impounded pit bulls were responsible for any of the other attacks.
But the attacks have prompted the council to introduce desexing of aggressive dogs. The council says it is empowered to take this action by the Dog Control Act.
"When any of these dogs come to our notice through registration or for reported menacing or any other reason, we will require desexing unless the owner can convince us to not to. Each case will be treated on its merits," Mr Young says.
The council will have a "zero tolerance" policy towards all unregistered, roaming and menacing dogs.
Mr. Young said council officers were doing a property to property search throughout Manaia in order to locate such dogs and their owners, with the intention to destroy the dogs.
No warnings would be given to owners of unregistered dogs, he said.
The council will make a leaflet drop to Manaia's 400 houses this weekend, warning people to be on the lookout for menacing dogs and report sightings to a special hotline number.
"They have checked out and eliminated any pit bulls registered in Manaia and will be showing zero tolerance towards any unregistered, roaming and menacing dogs," Mr. Young said.
"The dogs will be taken to the pound and owners will be able to retrieve them only after paying $300 infringement fees. Owners of roaming dogs will have to pay $200 infringement fees."[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Dogs are like that, aren't they ... they'll immediatly rush in to save their human families from all sorts of distressful things, no matter the cost to themselves. We had a very ugly situation here in Independence two years ago similar to this. About 1:30 am on the police/fire scanner I hear the dispatcher give out an address on First Street a block or two away. I look out the window and see flames over there and hear a siren from a distance. Thinking I might have known the people (it turns out I did not know them) I decide to walk over there and see what it is about. It turns out the furnace had malfunctioned and burned the house down, killing all the occupants (three adults and one child) and severely injuring the family dog. However, the dog was detirmined to get the other child, a tiny baby out if he could. They are very smart animals. When the firemen and police came in, the dog was right there yipping and yapping to show them where to find the one survivor. Dogs are our friends. I wonder why people have to abuse and mistreat them? PAT]