Just before 2pm last Thursday Chiavanni Le’Mon said her five-year-old daughter Revas Hand was bitten on the left side of her neck by a dog from a neighbouring property who was roaming in the school grounds.
Le’Mon was first alerted to the attack by Reva’s school teachers who took her to the Tupapa Community Clinic.
Le’Mon and her husband Rene Hand rushed to the clinic where Reva received three or four stitches to seal up the wound where the dog had pierced her skin.
“I couldn’t watch when they were stitching her up... it could have been fatal, the dog could have got a main artery.”
When Rene returned to the school to pick up their older son Kiani, the dog was still on the grounds, Le’Mon says.
“When he went back to the school the dog was still roaming around and it had blood on its mouth.”
Le’Mon was told by the school that Reva had been teasing the dog which sparked the attack.
“We have our own dog at home and she plays with him all the time... so what would have been teasing to that dog would have been playing to our dog?
“But she’s five. She doesn’t know the difference between what dogs you can play with and what dogs you can’t, and it was in the school grounds.”
Reva, who Le’Mon describes as a ‘bright happy girl’, was recovering but has not yet returned to school.
“The first few days she was in a lot of pain and her face swelled up quite a lot.”
Le’Mon said they were going to take it day-by-day and hoped Revas could return to school by the end of this week. She wished to thank Reva’s school teachers for caring for her daughter after the attack.
The shaken mother hoped the incident would raise awareness about the safety of children and the importance of dog owners keeping their animals tied up.
She also wished to pose a question to the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) about the need to repair the school’s surrounding fence.
Takitumu Primary School principal Engia Baxter told CI News the police were immediately notified of the incident, as was the owner of the dog.
Baxter said the owner of the dog was shaken and understood the consequences of his pet’s attack.
The school held an assembly on Friday following the incident, informing students not to bring their dogs to school.
“And if they do we will call the police.”
Cook Islands Police dog control officer Noo Poila confirmed to CI News the dog who attacked Reva had been put down on Friday morning.
The issue of roaming dogs has been long-running and Poila said police were continuing to campaign to get owners to register their dogs and keep them tied up.
“Otherwise they will be put down.”
In the Dog Registration Act 1986, it states in section 10, Ownership of Dog: “No person or group of persons residing in the same household shall own or have in that household more than two dogs except with the prior approval of the Registrar (registrar of dogs, police).”
All dogs have to be de-sexed and registered at the police headquarters. Dog owners must present a certificate proving their animal had been de-sexed.