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Her eye had to be stitched open, her cheekbone was broken, several of her teeth were crushed and she has no feeling on the left side of her face.
But Christine Breen says she has nothing against the dog that savaged her face – her anger is directed rather at the owner who made the animal that way – and she will continue to help get animals off the streets.
The Auckland woman, a trustee for the Chained Dog Awareness animal welfare group, has rescued hundreds of cats and dogs abandoned by their owners over the past eight years.
While doing a routine round in Manurewa a week before Christmas, she stepped out of her car and immediately dropped something from her handbag.
Bending down to pick it up, she looked up to see a dog’s mouth snapping at her before it ripped through her face.
A couple who saw the attack ran to Mrs Breen’s aid and yanked the dog off her, but it promptly ran back at her, attacking the back of her neck.
She was knocked out cold.
Mrs Breen was rushed to Middlemore Hospital, where she had extensive surgery to repair her face.
She will need to make further trips to the hospital in the coming weeks.
But she says she does not blame the dog – which has since been put down – but the hundreds of owners who continue to abandon and abuse dogs who in turn attack people.
“Some are disgusting. That dog was skeletal and it had been caged – you could tell by the fly-strike on its ears. It was vicious – and a person made him that way.”
Mrs Breen said she had seen hundreds of cases where people had mistreated their pets, which turned them into aggressive animals.
“I had one dog who was chained out the back and never given any water just because was lazy.
“The owner used to bite her ears to punish her.”
That dog now regularly lies sound asleep in Mrs Breen’s lounge, with several cats and other dogs she fosters before putting them into better homes.
She said more people – specifically local councils – needed to introduce greater punishments for people who abandoned and mistreated their animals because they were the real problem.
“I’m an animal lover and I think it’s a privilege to own an animal.
“A lot of these don’t see animals as a living thing. They chain them up and keep them under the house for years, and that’s how they end up like this.
” could get a child next time and a child wouldn’t have had a chance. We don’t want these types of people with dogs.”