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The owner of one of the dogs involved in a pack attack on two women at Whirinaki north of Napier in October has appealed for her “beloved family member” to be returned to her in time for Christmas.

Rascal, a male Rhodesian Ridgeback, has been in the custody of Hastings District Council since it and two other dogs mauled two women in separate attacks on October 3.

The two other dogs, a Mastiff cross called Max and Halo, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, were voluntarily surrendered by their owners to council and destroyed in the wake of the attacks, which left the women with “significant” injuries.

Racal’s owner, Kayla Bremner,did not relinquish her animal and will now appeal to council’s hearings committee on Thursday for her dog to be returned to her in time for the festive season, while she and the owners await sentencing on charges stemming from the attacks.

Arounds 2.30pm on October 3, the pack of "roaming unsupervised" dogs attacked a woman running on Whirinaki Beach, leaving significant puncture wounds on her right buttock, upper arm and armpit.

Just 45 minutes later, the dogs attacked a woman in her 60s who walking on the road near the beach. After being bitten, she was taken by ambulance to Hawke's Bay Hospital and was transferred to Hutt Hospital for specialist surgery on her arm.

The owners were charged with two counts of owning a dog that attacked  a person causing serious injury’. Two of the owners pleaded guilty in Napier Court while Bremner pleaded guilty to two counts of the lesser charge of owning a dog that rushed a person causing injury. The owners are due to be sentenced on February 2 next year.

In a letter due to be delivered to tomorrow’s hearings committee, Bremner’s lawyer requests that Racal be returned to its owner as the sentencing date was “still some time away”, and warns she is likely to appeal if her request is turned down.

“Christmas is approaching and while I accept that the holiday season is not covered by the mandatory considerations of [Section 71 of the Dog Control Act] it would certainly be hugely appreciated by my client who is keen to get her beloved family member back to her care.”

The letter states that Bremner would be willing to improve fencing to the property and even muzzle Rascal to “satisfy the council that there are no public safety issues if the dog is to be released”.

If her plea for Racal’s return was rejected, Bremner’s preference was to avoid appealing to the District Court as “it costs everyone time, money and effort”, but one would be filed if there was “no other option”, the letter said.

A council report states that Animal Welfare Centre staff had had the opportunity to observe Rascal’s behaviour while in custody.

The report states that the dog does not respond to basic commands, barks at strangers, and maintains eye contact which “is generally considered to be an aggressive/dominant trait”.

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