CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ
Reko’s dislike of his fellow dogs got the better of him on a visit to Raglan, where he launched two violent attacks on a jack russell and a labrador that led, ultimately, to his doom.
It was a trail of carnage that also led the german shepherd’s owner, Kahn Marc Johnson, 43, to the Hamilton District Court on Friday, on charges of failing to control a classified dangerous dog, and owning a dog which had attacked other animals.
What was to be Reko’s final bout of bad behaviourÂ began on the afternoon of October 17 last year. It was a dayÂ when Johnson drove from his home in Hamilton to Raglan, stopping to pick up a hitchhiker on the way. They made their way to Manu Bay and then the Kopua Domain.
The hitchhiker then took Reko for a walk into downtown Raglan. Whether this was with Johnson’s consent or, as he maintains, Reko was effectively being stolen remains up for debate. However the fact remains that Johnson was remiss in allowing Reko to be in public without a muzzle.
Reko had aÂ history of aggressionÂ against other canines, courier drivers and other delivery people from 2014 onwards.Â Â This led to his classification as a dangerous dog in June last year.
If any further rationale for this designation was needed, it was revealed at 2.30pm when Reko and the hitcher happened upon Minnie the jack russell near the Municipal Building on Bow St.
Without warning he seized upon the smaller dog, grabbing the back of her neck in his jaws, shaking her and pinning her to the ground. Minnie’s desperate owner had to repeatedly kickÂ Reko until he released her.
Minnie – a well-trained dog who had starred in children’s plays – required emergency vet treatment including sutures and a drain being inserted into the back of her head.
An hour later Reko struck again. This time the object of his ire was a black labrador called Dallas, who Reko lunged for as he was passing the Blacksand Cafe, further down Bow St. Reko bit him on the ear and neck. Dallas sought refuge under a bench and Reko was fended off by Dallas’ owners.
Waikato District Council animal welfare offices were alerted to the ruckus and Reko was apprehended shortly after.
Johnson, as owner and responsible party, found himself facing the prospect of fines and orders of reparation. The news for Reko was far worse: The otherwise beloved family petÂ found himself on the dogÂ version of death row.
Reko’s fate was sealed whenÂ Rosemary Riddell took on the role of effective executioner as well as district court judge. In addition toÂ ordering Reko’sÂ destruction, she fined Johnson $300 on each charge and ordered him to reimburse Minnie’s owners for their $476.30 vet’s bill.
It could have been worse and yet could still be: The council wanted reparation for the cost of keeping Reko interred from the day of his offending until his owner’s day of judgement. This totalled $5706.
Judge Riddell declined to make such an order, however she noted that this did not preclude the council from pursuing Johnson through a civil action.
JohnsonÂ was not able to attend hisÂ sentencing, which had to be rescheduled from the morning to the afternoon. Given that he had diligently turned up in court at the initially specified time, Judge Rosemary Riddell opted to excuse him and proceed with the sentencing in his absence.