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Panguru death: Two dogs put down and third ‘severely injured’ after fatal mauling, victim named

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Neville Thomson, 69. Photo / Supplied

Two dogs have been put down and police are searching for a third, after a Northland man was fatally mauled on Thursday.

The third dog is believed to be severely injured and police are urging people who come across the dog not to approach it and instead contact Police or Animal Management.

Police also shot an adult dog yesterday.

The man’s family told 1News their father, 69-year-old Neville Thomson, had two dogs that he loved and cared for, and they claimed the dogs that attacked him belonged to a friend who had been staying with him.

Nataria Moore, the victim’s daughter, said when she found out what happened it felt like the air had been sucked out of the room.

“He tried to protect his two dogs during all this by keeping them locked inside, they weren’t involved at all.”

The victim’s stepdaughter also told the programme her mum was on the phone with him at the time.

Far North Area investigations manager, detective senior sergeant Mark Dalzell, said they expect the scene examination at the Panguru property to be completed this evening.

“Inquiries into the sudden death on Thursday remain ongoing and as part of this, a post-mortem examination is due to be carried out tomorrow.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the deceased’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

The alarm was raised just before 2pm on Thursday.

Neville Thomson, 69. Photo / File
Neville Thomson, 69. Photo / File

St John Ambulance and Kohukohu Fire Brigade responded but with aggressive dogs still on the loose, they were unable to attend to the man until police – who armed themselves for protection – had made the property safe. The victim died at the scene.

The first report was that there were about a dozen dogs on the property, including six puppies. By Friday the number of dogs found on the property had risen to about 25.

The mauling occurred on Puketawa Rd, off Runaruna Rd, north of Panguru. The area is rugged and isolated, dominated by scrub, pine plantations and rough farmland.

There are few other residents on Puketawa Rd.

The area was still a hive of activity today, with police guarding the scene and a number of other vehicles parked at the end of the victim’s driveway.

Locals said the dead man kept mostly to himself but was well regarded and made regular trips into town for supplies.

He had called into Panguru only a day before the attack for milk and bread with, as always, a couple of his dogs in the front seat of his truck.

One resident, who did not want to give her name, said the man locals knew Nev as “a lovely guy who was friendly to everyone”.

While his dogs looked “scary as” she had never known them to be aggressive and couldn’t believe they had been responsible for the attack.

“There’s really nothing bad to say about Nev, he’s a cool old guy. He kept to himself but everyone knew him and his dogs. The one thing he loved was his dogs.”

He had been down-country recently to see his grandchildren and his ailing father, who had died aged in his 90s.

He had only been home for about two weeks.

While he was away another man, who also had dogs, had been looking after his house.

She believed the house-sitter’s dogs were still present at the property but that could not be confirmed.

Another resident described him as a small, slightly built man, who would have had little chance if a large dog knocked him to the ground.

A group of kuia catching up outside Whakarapa Toa, Panguru’s general store, were also shocked by the death.

One described the victim as “a good fella” who supported local businesses.

“I can’t believe it was his dogs. I don’t know if anyone else was there at the time, we’re in the dark as much as anyone else.”

Most of what they did know was gleaned from news reports and social media, she said.

The Far North District Council confirmed about 25 dogs were on the Panguru property in North Hokianga but some of these were puppies.

“A history check on the property by council’s Animal Management team found that there were no active registered dogs for the property; people are allowed to have more than two dogs,” council general manager of district services Dean Myburgh said.

The council did not have any animal control officers in Panguru today, he said.

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