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Owner of dangerous dog happy to pay $1000 fine
Friday, 20 April 2007
An Auckland man has been convicted for owning a dog that seriously injured a girl - and he is more than happy to pay the $1000 fine.

"There wasn't much I can do about it, I wasn't trying to fight it or anything. I take full responsibility," said 23-year-old Ricky Nikora, who appeared in Auckland District Court on Thursday.

Mr Nikora wasn't home when his family's dog attacked 7-year-old Tyler Hemingway in October last year, but he still feels responsible.

Tyler received serious wounds to her lower leg after being bitten around the ankle by the staffordshire bull terrier.

She has had three operations to repair damage to the growth plate in her foot, but doctors say there is a chance it will not grow any bigger.

Tyler is slowly recovering from her ordeal, but is still wary of any unfamiliar dogs.

She received the $1000 for emotional harm caused by her ordeal, but her family is just grateful the case is over.

Tyler's mother Carla Loughlin said the money did not cover the costs of Tyler's treatment, but she was happy with the court's finding.

She said she felt sorry for Mr Nikora. Though the dog was registered in his name, it belonged to the whole family, and he was not home when the attack happened.

Mr Nikora said he had apologised to Tyler and her family, and was happy to take responsibility.

"I was always ready to put [the dog] down, it was never an issue. I was always sorry for the little girl - that she was bitten.

"You don't want a fine at all really, but ... these are humans, and they [dogs] are just your pets. There's no price you put on human suffering."

Auckland City Council service requests manager, Jackie Wilkinson said the dog had been destroyed.

Mr Nikora told the council that he always put the dog away when visitors arrived.

But Ms Wilkinson said though that was done "with the best intentions", it would have been better to teach the dog to interact with visitors.

"By removing the dog every time, the dog was encouraged to act as a guard dog, so it treated all visitors as a potential threat to the family," she said. "It is better to remove the dog initially and then allow the dog and child to be introduced in a controlled environment."


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