A lawyer who acted on behalf of the owners of a Rottweiler dog who attacked a vet says Tauranga City Council could be held liable for costs, including any rehabilitation needed after the dog spent eight months in the pound – a treatment that could amount to thousands of dollars.
However, a group representing vets said a judge shouldn’t have blamed the bitten vet for the dog attack that put Chopper in the clink.
Bev Edwards, a Tauranga dog lawyer, says the dog, Chopper, has been wrongfully impounded for eight months pending a court hearing, and, if he needs a rehabilitation in As a result, the owners have a case that the council’s animal services department should fund the treatment.
“That would be a case though for the civil court.”
Chopper was locked up in the pound in October 2021, after biting holistic vet Dr Liza Schneider in the parking lot of her clinic, where owner Helen Fraser had taken him to be de-sexed.
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Edwards first acted for the dog’s owner, Helen Fraser, who was charged under the Control of Dogs Act with owning a dog that attacked a person. Fraser pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the hearing did not begin until June 2022.
Chopper was allowed to return home on Tuesday, June 12, after a judge ruled that Fraser was not responsible for the attack and that responsibility lay with the veterinarian.
“Dr. Schneider was in charge of determining how the situation should be handled from the moment she walked out of the clinic and saw Chopper get out of the car…she however took no steps to exercise and maintain control, although that she had every opportunity to do so. . If she had, the incident would have been avoided. I consider that Dr. Schneider put herself in a position where she was vulnerable to attack from a dog that had not been assessed for safety.
As Schneider waved to Fraser in the parking lot, Chopper lunged at the vet, his teeth catching on his arm. Schneider was left with a broken right arm as well as tendon, muscle and nerve damage. She had to have a plate inserted in her arm and it took her five months before she could return to her duties. She has permanent scars and still cannot lift some animals.
New Zealand Veterinary Association chief executive Kevin Bryant, chief executive of the NZVA, said the group was disappointed with the outcome.
“Liza is a highly valued member of the veterinary profession in Tauranga and across the country. Managing difficult dogs is a daily reality for veterinarians, but managing dangerous dogs is not. They can be unpredictable and cause serious damage.”
“At the end of the day, we have a vet who was seriously injured by a dog that was not properly controlled. It is heartbreaking that the judgment implicitly blames her for this.”
However, Edwards thinks Chopper, too, is at risk of harm due to being impounded rather than “dog bailed.” The conditions in which Chopper was held at the pound – in solitary confinement in a bare, 4x4m, 2.5m high enclosure with no natural light, were against animal welfare law.
Fraser described Chopper’s cage as a “death row” in a high-security prison – he was not allowed to exercise, which caused him sores and depression.
Veterinary behaviorist Dr Elsa Flint, an Auckland vet who runs an animal behavior clinic, lectures on animal behavior at Massey University and has published scientific books and articles. She says it’s possible Chopper needs professional help after being locked in a cage for a long time.
“He should have an evaluation to see how he is affected, but I have seen animals that have been kept in similar unpleasant conditions who have been traumatized by the experience.”
A two-hour behavioral consultation with Flint costs $450 plus GST.
Flint said while she couldn’t comment on the attack incident without knowing the situation, vets need to be prepared for animals to be anxious when visiting a clinic, and this has been heightened during the pandemic. of Covid.
“The animal is picking up tension, which the owner and staff may also be feeding, and someone wearing a mask could be dealing with.”
Professional canine behavior treatment across the country comes at a similar price. Selina Mcintyre, a behaviorist and dog trainer in the Waikato, Tauranga and Rotorua areas, charges from $775 plus GST and mileage for three home visits for a range of services including helping anxious or aggressive dogs .
Residential canine behavior rehabilitation services are priced at $3,235 for three weeks of boarding and training at Good Training in Auckland run by animal behaviorist Ryan Palmer-Kiddell. There is also an intensive weekly program for aggressive dogs starting at $1250 per week.
Along with family members, Chopper’s owner, Fraser launched a campaign to free Chopper and change dog control laws.
The campaign gained thousands of supporters, some of whom attended the trial.
Fraser told Stuff yesterday that she was thrilled and that Chopper hasn’t stopped wagging his tail since getting home.
Campaign supporters believe action is yet to be taken against the council for the conditions in which Chopper was held.
Edwards says “dog bail” should be considered in these cases.
Things has contacted Tauranga City Council for comment.
Veterinarian Liza Schneider was not at her clinic when Things called.