Families grieving and angry after Far North fatal dog attacks

This August will mark two years since Neville Thomson was mauled to death at his Panguru home.

His daughter Nataria Moore said her father's death left a big void in her whānau's life.

"I couldn't go to sleep - couldn't close my eyes without visualising something."

This week a 59-year-old man will appear in the Kaitaia District Court charged with manslaughter. Abel Wira was boarding at Thomson's property with his dogs when Thomson was attacked and died.

But just a year after Thomson died, the Far North community was hit by another unrelated fatal dog attack. The victim was 78-year-old Moerewa resident Elizabeth Whittaker.

Moore said she felt deep sadness that another whānau had to go through the same thing.

"That poor, poor kuia having to go through such a traumatic situation," she said.

Summer Johnson runs the Bay of Islands Animal Rescue and she said it's a tragedy that people have lost their lives.

"It's just not taken seriously enough."

Johnson has dedicated her life to rescuing animals but said many volunteer rescues were struggling.

"There was a time where I could get three to four phone calls a day with puppies needing help, and you'd take them and we'd juggle them," she said.

"But now we have to say no and it's heartbreaking."

Johnson said authorities must step up.

"We need mandatory desexing and we need the government, the councils and the SPCA - the ones with power - to recognise that we are in crisis."

Roddy Pihema is on the Bay Of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board.

He said the Far North District Council was doing as much as it could do at the moment.

"They don't have the numbers when it comes to animal control workers."

He's been leading efforts to increase responsible dog ownership.

"You can't push (the) council to do the job if you're not doing your job yourself."

But Moore isn't sure if people are learning from these tragedies.

"If we have good dog owners, this shouldn't happen," she said.

"This is not a dog problem. It's an owner problem. It's a community problem. It's a government problem."