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Ambulance officer sounds alarm on ‘surging’ dog crashes

Wednesday 26 June 2024 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Crime, National

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Ambulance officer sounds alarm on ‘surging’ dog crashes
According to Brent Fisher, an ambulance officer at Te Marae Ora, the emergency department responded to six motor vehicle and motorbike crashes caused by dogs in just a 48-hour period earlier this month. TMO/24062517

Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health is experiencing a rise in emergency department cases resulting from dog-related road crashes.

According to Brent Fisher, an ambulance officer at Te Marae Ora, the emergency department responded to six motor vehicle and motorbike crashes caused by dogs in just a 48-hour period earlier this month.

The victims were treated for injuries ranging from bruises to cuts, said Fisher, who is also the president of the Cook Islands Road Safety Council.

“We are not counting others that may have happened that didn’t come to the hospital and wouldn’t have reported (to the police),” he said.

Fisher said there had been a rise in dog-related road incidents and has asked police to take some actions to “keep them off the road”.

He said the hospital’s limited resources were strained by dog-related crashes, which could take them away from attending to more serious medical emergencies.

“It’s the dog owners’ fault, they are not looking after them. You can’t go around the road or drive around the road without the dogs chasing you or your car.

“The other day I walked home from Ariki Café Nikao backroad and I had probably 30 to 40 dogs come out at me. Police needs to do something about this.”

Fisher emphasised preventative measures and suggested solutions to address the issue of unaccounted-for dogs.

“When you see someone lying on the hospital bed with a deep cut on their legs, injuries to the elbows, scratched face or missing ear parts, the thought of killing dogs is not such a bad thing then.”

Police media/strategic advisor Trevor Pitt said from the outset, it was not unusual for Te Marae Ora data to conflict with the Police.

“We have differing methodology in Intel. I’m not doubting the six dog-related road incidents but it seems high in terms of our reported incidents. I would need to check the details for this month,” Pitt said.

“Police received only five dog complaints last month, mostly related to attacks on livestock. That figure is relatively low.”

Pitt pointed out that most residents were already well aware of the unpredictable behaviour of roadside dogs.

“Motorcyclists especially need to be vigilant about the risks. That doesn’t, however, excuse dog owners as they can be prosecuted if it’s proven their animal caused a crash. Such a prosecution has not occurred for some time.

“Dog Control officers have primarily focused on the menacing, attacking dogs, as a priority.”