Charge follows dog attack on seal

A holiday maker at Pukehina Beach has described how a pit bull tossed a healthy seal pup around like a rag doll before savaging it to death at the weekend.

A woman has been charged in connection with the incident at the popular beach resort, while animal service staff are working with police to have the dog seized.

This seal pup was attacked by a dog at Pukehina Beach in the weekend. Supplied photos.

Holiday maker Victoria Herrick, who was at the beach with her partner and two-year-old child, had been watching the seal pup frolicking in the waves and sunbathing on the beach on Sunday morning.

She was inside the bach the gfamily had rented with her child when she heard a commotion on the beach.

“It was my partner yelling at a brindle pit bull terrier to release the seal pup. The dog had a grip on its head and was just tossing it about.”

When the dog released the seal Victoria chased it up the beach access.

“I needed to know where the dog lived, that it was chained up and secure. Because I had a child who wanted to play on the beach but that wasn’t going to happen with that dog loose.”

Then as Victoria followed the dog, she met its owner.

“I told him it had just attacked a seal pup and so he started beating the dog, putting the boot it.”

Victoria says she told the dog owner he didn’t need to beat the dog, he needed to control it.

“He said this is the way he controlled the dog.”

That’s when a woman wielding a long screwdriver ran up the beach towards Victoria.

“She said do you want some of this and she was waving the screwdriver at me.”

Victoria says she explained she didn’t want trouble, she just needed to know the dog was secure. She says that’s when the woman flailed the screwdriver at her and tried to stab her.

Victoria returned to the bach, locked the door and decided their holiday was over.

It was later explained in a Facebook post that the screwdriver was intended for prising the pitbull’s jaw apart if needed.

“Later when I looked out the window I could still see the dog roaming a section around kids playing.”

Victoria then raised the alarm with police and the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

On the beach, locals tried to resuscitate the nine to 10-month-old pup by pouring water on it. But it died.

The woman accused of wielding the screwdriver will appear in Tauranga District Court on Wednesday in connection with the incident.

Victoria’s ordeal triggered a big response when she posted on a Pukehina Facebook site.

“That’s the same dog that growled at me and tried to attack me and my 10-month-old son on our own property…no one will speak up because they are scared to,” said one post.

“That mutt will hurt someone really bad one day. I am not surprised it killed the seal,” said another.

And “the next time it may not be a seal, it may be your moko. Locals need to say it’s not ok”.

The Department of Conservation is now considering whether to prosecute the owner, says DOC partnership ranger Kate Miller.

Owners of dogs that attack or harass seals can face prosecution under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and up to two years in jail or a fine of up to $250,000.

“For us the really big thing to push with the public is that your dog and the seal will be kept safe if you put your dog on a lead when walking near a seal,” says Kate.

“When walking on a beach keep an eye out for seals. They can look like logs, so you need to be really aware.”

Western Bay of Plenty District Council compliance and regulatory manager Alison Curtis says animal service officers have not been able to seize the dog in question yet.

"We have attempted to more than once however the owners are not cooperating.

"The dog is a male, pitbull terrier-type cross, tan coloured and classified as menacing. It is not registered," she says.

"We are working with DOC and the police and hope to seize the dog shortly. No charges have been laid yet."


Seals Vs Dogs

Posted on 16-09-2016 13:39 | By flyingtoaster

Owners should NEVER allow their pets roam in public. Responsible owners should NEVER beat their dog. Yes, dogs are inquisitive when it comes to seals. I have seen several seals on the beach over the years, and invariably, if there is a dog in the vacinity, it will go an investigate. With all the dog vs seal encounters witnessed, the initial aggression was from the seal, with the dog retaliating by barking and rushing the seal. Then a frantic owner races over and takes their pet away. I have never seen a seal being injured by a dog. I have seen seals quite unphased by a dog enquiry, choosing to remain sunbathing, others have slipped back into the sea. Dont blame the dog. Blame the negligent owner.

Seal attack

Posted on 14-09-2016 17:04 | By OAP

Now we just need a judge who will impose the maximum sentence and not let them off because "they had a bad upbringing ".

ban the owners!

Posted on 14-09-2016 16:13 | By bryceh

from ever having animals in their care! Here you have a moron who believes the way to great animal behaviour is to control the animal by beating and kicking. On the other side of the kennel was a moroness who believes the best way to open a pet’s mouth, is with a screwdriver! The JUDGE is allowed to lock this scumbag owner up for 2 years - DO IT, I Challenge you!!

Poor Animals

Posted on 14-09-2016 14:14 | By N@

I feel sorry for the seal pup and the dog. If the owners does not bother to register their own dog, do you really expect them to understand the importance of keeping it on a lead when necessary? And not to mention threatening someone else with a screwdriver! The owners are the ones that should be seized and caged - like the animals they proof to be. What a shame! I hope these people don’t have children...

Not surprised it was a pitbull.

Posted on 14-09-2016 13:49 | By jed

I wonder how many pitbull owners have criminal convictions? More than average I bet.Ban the breed awful things.

The actions...

Posted on 14-09-2016 08:41 | By penguin

...and non-cooperative attitude of the dog’s owners(s) speaks volumes. Once again, the responsibility lies with the owner of dogs to have them controlled. In medieval times there were ways and means of dealing with people who did not follow the rules....mmmm!

More than one victim here

Posted on 14-09-2016 07:58 | By Seriously?

My heart goes out to the dog. While I am saddened by the death of the seal pup, the dog has never stood a chance at a decent life with owners like it has been saddled with. Perhaps the dog should be rehabilitated and rehomed and the hopefully "former" dog owners should be made accountable for their lack of care for the dog. People like that a despicable and shouldn’t be living in the community with law abiding people who care for their pets. But then it would probably be just another jail sentence added to their list.


Posted on 14-09-2016 07:36 | By whatsinaname

The guy that kicked the dog needs to be locked up. those two should not have animals good on the lady finding out the owner. Sorry yr holiday was ruined by these thoughtless people

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