His mother, Lisa Winchester of Christchurch, says her son Harry and his nine-year old sister, Mia, were watching baby chicks not far from where they were staying at Muri, when Harry spotted a dog and wanted to pat it.
“He approached the dog, didn’t even touch it, when the dog jumped at him and bit him and knocked him over,” she says.
“He is very much an animal lover, so very careful and gentle with animals. This attack took him completely by surprise. Luckily it was just his right armpit area and not his face or anything more serious,” she added.
The incident happened on the side road at the Nautilus end of Muri, near Koteka winery.
“We were staying at Muri Garden Lodge so would often walk up and down that road into Muri.”
Now back home, Lisa says, “We were there for two weeks and fortunately it happened on the day before we left (late last Friday evening). It put an end to his swimming though, which he was just getting used to.”
The toddler’s parents took him to the hospital for the treatment of a deep wound. Lisa says her son didn’t need tetanus because he’s fully immunised, but he was put on antibiotics and had a special dressing put on the wound.
A Cook Islands Police Service spokesperson says the Winchesters filed a report that was followed up this week, resulting in the dog being put down. The Winchesters had taken photos of the animal, which helped police track it down.
Although it wasn’t a good end to their holiday, Winchester says it wouldn’t put them off coming back to the Cook Islands.
“Yes, we would still visit again, it is a beautiful island. I’d just be more wary with young children.
“It’s hard to explain to Harry why he can’t touch the dogs, as there were plenty who were very friendly and we had a couple follow us back to our lodge.
She says it’s very different in New Zealand, as any wandering dogs are picked up by Animal Control and can’t roam freely.
“It’s hard to know in Rarotonga which are strays and which have owners, because they all appear to roam freely.”
The random attack coincides with dog patrols that have started in the Takitumu area. Police will be checking that all dogs in the area are registered and tagged, as well as being de-sexed, and that there are only two dogs per household.