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Yifat Goddard needed 40 stitches after a dog attacked her and she still doesn’t have the full use of her hand. PHOTO: Kelley Tantau

Dog attack victim unable to use hand

It was a quiet Saturday morning when Yifat Goddard decided to go for a walk around her neighbourhood.
The Waihī woman was still in view of her house when a dog ran from a property and attacked her, unprovoked.
“By the time I looked back, the dog was in my face. I put my hand out and he grabbed me and dragged me a little bit down the street until I held a plant on one of the fences.
“I could hear the bones breaking,” she said. “I knew straight away there was a problem.”
Yifat was one of 21 people attacked by a dog in the Hauraki district in the year to June, 2022.
According to the local council, this number had “increased considerably” from 11 reported dog attacks on people in the previous year.
There were also 205 reports of roaming dogs.
Despite this, Hauraki District Council did not believe there was a “significant issue” with dogs in the district.
But Yifat and the man who stopped to help her disagree.
“The owner got a $200 fine… and it costs more if you don’t pick up your dog’s faeces [$300],” Yifat said.
“It’s not that I am against the owner, I’m against the fact that there are dog attacks and they can be avoided with a bit more force from the council.”
A man working in the area on the morning of March 26, who asked not to be named, saw the attack unfold. He said the dog ran across the street and “flew” itself at Yifat, proceeding to bite down on her arm.
“The screaming that was going on… it was a nightmare.”
He believed there was a problem with roaming and unregistered dogs in the town, and that it was the council’s job to police the issue.
“I’ve seen dog attacks before; I’ve seen the wounds of the person after it happened. If a human did that, I’d expect
them to go through the courts. Who is taking responsibility for these attacks?” he asked.
“I don’t want anyone else to witness what I witnessed.”
The incident left Yifat bloodied and bruised on the side-walk. She needed at least 40 stitches and still does not have the full use of her hand.
The owner of the dog – which was registered as a Bull Mastiff cross – euthanised their pet voluntarily.
Six months later, Yifat has only just started to drive again.
“I don’t walk anymore. I’m too scared. That’s the mental damage that comes with cases like this,” she said.
“I can’t go to friends’ houses that have dogs, unless they tie them or put them in another room, so, yes, it has its impacts, absolutely.”
According to a council report, dog attacks on other dogs or animals remained higher than attacks on humans, with 31 reported incidents in the past year.
The number of infringement notices filed to court was slightly up compared with infringements in the previous
year, from 62 to 74 in 2021/22.
No prosecutions were undertaken in the 2021/22 year.
“The owner of the offending dog [in Yifat’s case] rang council and reported the incident,” a council spokesperson told The Profile.
“They surrendered the dog to our animal control officer within an hour of the event taking place. The dog was euthanised the following day.
“Our animal control officer visited Ms Goddard a couple of days after the event and talked through what action we had taken in regards to the offending dog and the fine issued to the owner. The matter was reported to the police.”
In total, 479 incidents were reported to council between July, 2021, to June, 2022.
Council’s spokesperson said the number of roaming dogs was low two years ago (171) and this was most likely a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns and people working from home.
In the two years prior, council recorded 206 and 259 reports of roaming dogs.
“We do not believe that there is a significant issue with dogs in our district, but any dog attack is a concern and something that we take very seriously,” they said.
DETAILS: Should anyone observe a roaming dog or are threatened or attacked by a dog, council asks that people call as soon as possible. It also helps if people are able to send pictures of the dog. Council’s phones are monitored 24/7: 07 862 8609 or 0800 734 834