Rottweiler who brutally killed a veterinarian freed from “death row”
Chopper’s house has been a cage in the pound for over four months.
A Rottweiler who attacked a Tauranga vet, leaving her with flesh hanging from her arm, unable to pick up animals and with permanent scars, has been allowed home after a court ruled her owner n wasn’t at fault.
The dog, Chopper, had been impounded since October 2021, after biting holistic vet Dr Liza Schneider in the parking lot of his clinic, where owner Helen Fraser had taken him to be de-sexed.
Fraser picked up Chopper from the pound on Tuesday, nearly eight months later. It comes after a judge ruled that Chopper could return to his owner’s care, rather than be euthanized.
Dog owners took to Tauranga District Court on Tuesday in a dangerous dog case.
* Treatment of ‘death row’ dogs is cruel, owners say
* The previously spared dog must be destroyed following the non-compliance of the owner
* Psychological scars remain for dog attack victim
The case deciding Chopper’s fate was hit by long delays, sparking a community campaign to save the dog, called “Free Chopper”.
The judge-alone trial finally began last month, with Fraser charged under the Dog Control Act with owning a dog that caused a serious injury to a person.
Supporters involved in the campaign to free the dog have alleged that Tauranga City Council, which runs the pound, was subjecting the dog to animal cruelty by keeping it caged for so long in conditions they described as inhuman.
The bare enclosure at the pound, 4x4m and 2.5m high has been nicknamed “death row” by the dog’s supporters.
There were no bedding, blankets or toys, and lack of exercise and sun exposure had affected Chopper’s health, leaving him with sores, his owner told Stuff.
Signs on Chopper’s door read “under investigation” and “aggressive dog, no exercise”.
When Fraser drove off on Tuesday, accompanied by Chopper barking in the back seat of her car, supporters were heard cheering her on.
The court heard the attack happened as Schneider waved to Fraser in the parking lot, while Fraser’s young son held the dog on a leash.
Chopper lunged at the vet, his teeth catching on his arm, leaving Schneider with a broken right arm as well as tendon, muscle and nerve damage. She had to have a plate inserted in her arm and it took her five months before she could return to her duties.
She was still in pain, unable to pick up some animals and had permanent scars, the court was told.
Fraser’s lawyer, James Carter, pleaded “no fault” on the part of the owner and, in court, had insinuated that Schneider, a 22-year-old veterinarian, was to blame for the attack. The vet rejected that.
Campaign supporters erupted in joy at news of Chopper’s release, with hundreds of social media posts tonight celebrating the news with the hashtag #freechopper.