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Bluff man warns of roaming dog dangers

Nolan Henigan wants the Bluff community to be aware of an increase in roaming dog attacks after a dog jumped into his section on Monday and attacked his chickens.

Robyn Edie/Stuff

Nolan Henigan wants the Bluff community to be aware of an increase in roaming dog attacks after a dog jumped into his section on Monday and attacked his chickens.

A Bluff man is warning the community to be wary of roaming dogs, after his chickens were mauled and his daughter’s cat was killed in separate attacks.

Nolan Henigan was already on high-alert for roaming dogs when he heard a disturbance in his backyard before leaving for work on Monday afternoon.

His brother, Carwyn Henigan, immediately went outside to investigate and saw a black and tan rottweiler with one of Nolan’s chickens in his mouth.

“It had pinned that chicken underneath this old bath tub, and it had pulled it up in its mouth … it saw me, and it was about to take it off, and then I ran after it, and it was off,” Carwyn said.

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The attack was exactly a week after Nolan’s daughter, Sky Henigan, had her cat killed by a dog at a different fenced property in Bluff.

“The dog came onto the property, jumped the fences, went all through the backyard, under the house, jumped up against all the floor-boards, waking up my 6-year-old up, who is now terrified of sleeping in her room,” she said.

“It chased me down the driveway and I couldn’t get to my cat … it died, I heard its last meows by the kitchen window, and the next morning I found my cats dead body by the kitchen window.”

Nolan posted about the attacks on a community Facebook page, and had received responses from other locals who had their animals harassed by roaming dogs.

“In the last eight days we’ve had Sky’s cat killed on our property, had the chickens had a go at, which has been definitely identified as two separate dogs … and then someone had their cat mauled today,” Nolan said.

Nolan wanted to see a community-based approach to the issue, which could include encouraging the community to check and repair their fencing, more communication of attacks in the community, and letting people know to register dog attacks with the ICC.

People were hesitant about reporting attacks to the ICC given it was a tight-knit community, he said.

Both Nolan and Sky’s attacks have been reported to the ICC.

ICC environmental services manager Gillian Cavanagh said it had only had two dog attacks reported in Bluff in 2022, compared to six in 2021.

“While I cannot comment on any ongoing investigations, as seen in the data, there has been a decrease in uncontrolled dog behaviour in Bluff. Since 2019, there has been an overall decrease in all categories,” she said.

When a report of a dog attack is received by council, it first moves to locate the dog, she said.

It then opens an investigation and gathers information before assessing the circumstances of the attack and the actions of the dog, owner and anyone else involved in the alleged attack

“Once all relevant information has been gathered, we assess the situation with the Dog Control Act 1996 to ensure we are enforcing it. We will cross-reference with similar past cases to ensure consistency,” she said.

There were 9368 dogs registered across Invercargill and Bluff, of which 336 dogs are currently residing in Bluff, she said.

A city council dog control officer, who met with Henigan, said people often avoided contacting the council around dog attacks because they believed the animal would be put down.

The officer re-iterated there was a four-step process that had to take place before any animal was euthanised.

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