South Wairarapa District Council v van Steensel [2017] NZDC 14828

Published 23 May 2018

Owning a dog that attacked a person — exceptional circumstances — Walker v Nelson City Council [2017] NZHC 750 The defendant was sentenced having pleaded guilty to one charge of owning a dog that attacked a child. The court was required to decide whether there were exceptional circumstances that meant that an order for the destruction of the dog should not be made. The dog had bitten the victim to the face causing a laceration. The dog had been involved in two previous incidents where it had bitten people. The defendant knew that people needed to be careful around the dog, and the court found that it was inadequate for the defendant to rely on the child to comply with the rules that the defendant had established around interacting with the dog. In setting a fine, the court noted the steps taken by the defendant to ensure that the dog would not attack again, the efforts taken by the defendant to assist the victim and remorse. The defendant was fined $300 and ordered to pay court costs. The court then considered whether exceptional circumstances existed that would justify the court not ordering the dog be destroyed. The court held that as the dog was suffering from an eye injury that elevated the circumstances of the offending to "exceptional". The destruction of the dog was not ordered. Judgment Date: 6 July 2017.