New Zealand may ban more dog breeds after a 2-year-old girl had 290 stitches and a steel plate inserted in her face after being savagely attacked, Prime Minister Helen Clark said Tuesday.
Aotea Coxon was rushed to a hospital after being mauled by a Staffordshire cross dog in a park in the southern city of Christchurch over the weekend.
Golf course superintendent Peter Macintosh heard the toddler screaming and rushed to her aid to find the dog latched onto her face. He managed to force it to release the child by choking its windpipe.
Macintosh said Coxon's face was so damaged that he could hear her jawbones grinding together as he carried her to an ambulance.
The toddler was in stable condition Tuesday after seven hours of facial surgery, police said.
The dog, which had lived with a family with young children and jumped a fence to attack Coxon, has been destroyed, said police Snr. Sgt. Pete Stills.
Prime Minister Clark said she was "repulsed" by the attack and personally favored tougher dog laws.
Under current law, it is illegal to import American Pit Bull Terriers, Brazilian Filas, Japanese Tosas and Dogo Argentino breeds into New Zealand.
"We need to look at what breeds are on that list and whether it needs to be extended," Clark told reporters. "We are on the case to see what could be done better."
"It gives you the creeps to think of dangerous dogs strolling around ready to pounce on innocent people," she said.
Clark, a farmer's daughter, said every time there was a call for tougher regulations there was "push back" from responsible dog owners and breeders.