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Much loved pet . . . Rayne, a six-year-old German spitz killed in a dog attack. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Threatening dogs need to be muzzled when they are taken out to public areas, a spokeswoman for a group of Timaru dog owners, Marlene Nyhon, says.

“I’m a dog lover but there is a minority of people out there who are spoiling it for the majority of dog owners who are compliant to the rules.

“These people don’t pick up after their dogs, register them or put them on a lead – enough’s enough.”

Mrs Nyhon was speaking after The Courier published a story last week about Timaru woman Siobhan Butterworth whose 6-year-old German Spitz, Rayne, was badly injured in an attack by an unregistered pitbull and then snatched from her arms and killed by the pitbull.

“What would it have been if it was a child?” Mrs Nyhon said.

“I think it’s horrendous that she got her dog in her arms and the other dog attacked again. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Siobhan Butterworth criticised the Timaru District Council for what she considered its unsympathetic attitude, and for not providing information nearly three weeks after Rayne died about the fate of the attacking dog and whether she could receive payment from the other owner for veterinary bills.

She accused the council of sweeping the incident under the carpet.

Council group manager environment Tracy Tierney told The Courier last Tuesday it had offered sensitive and thoughtful support, and a letter had been sent to Siobhan Butterworth outlining actions taken.

As of Monday this week, she had not received the letter and there had been no communication from the council.

The story aroused widespread comment on social media, with the owner of the offending dog, Chloe Allegra Barnard, going on Facebook.

She admitted making a mistake with the 10-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier she owned with her partner. She said the dog had never attacked before.

“He was off his lead, biggest mistake of my life. I cryed [sic] so much knowing this lady has woken up every day since without her dog. It breaks me and my partner.

“I did everything in my power to stop this (attack). I jumped on my dog.”

She said after the attack, she and her partner went around vets attempting to make contact with Siobhan Butterworth.

“Our dog is fixed, muzzled and securely locked on our property. We seriously were going to put our dog down but we need to try what we’re doing first since he is still so young.”

Council communications manager Stephen Doran entered the online debate:

“The council has informed the owner by letter what has happened. I’m sure if you were in this position you wouldn’t want them talking about your private issues in a public forum.”

At the weekend, Mrs Nyhon met with eight other dog owners from whom the consensus was that certain dog breeds should be made to wear a muzzle.