Gruesome dog attack claim at Wānaka playground a 'timely reminder'

by Lauren Pattemore - Jan 23, 2024

A community is in shock as details of a gruesome dog attack on a young child playing in a Wānaka park circulate, while the deputy mayor says the unfortunate event is a "timely reminder" for dog owners and families alike of their responsibilities.

Graphic photos of the boy, who the family say needed plastic surgery after the attack, were posted to a local Facebook page over the weekend.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has confirmed they are currently investigating the incident, which allegedly occurred at the children's playground in Allenby Park on Saturday. 

The deputy mayor lives opposite the park and says the incident acts as a reminder to all owners to ensure their dogs are under control in public places.

"And to parents and families, the need to educate them [children] about the potential risks of unfamiliar dogs."

Mr Smith says the dog control bylaw is the appropriate channel to address this incident. 

"Our dog control team have a proactive program around responsible dog ownership and continue to try and educate and manage ownership."

The Facebook post alerted people to the incident and asked for any information to help locate the dog's owner.

According to the post, the child ran away screaming from the off-leash dog after asking for a pat, and he was "bleeding profusely" from his face.

The family sought help at the Wānaka Medical Centre, but when it became evident part of the child's lip was missing and he required surgery they cut their planned holiday short and returned home to Christchurch, the post says.

It claims the dog owner was "irresponsible", and did not apologise or offer to share contact details after the incident occurred.

"She [the dog-owner] didn’t see his face so she has no idea of the consequences we are suffering since our son was bitten by her dog," the post says.

A later social media post in the same group says the dog was a Springer Spaniel. 

Both the family and the writer of the Facebook post have been approached for comment.

Main image: A Springer Spaniel is alleged to have bitten a young holidaymaker so badly at a Wānaka playground he required plastic surgery to repair his upper lip.

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