Amnesty 'vilifies good dog owners'

By Alicia Burrow

Auckland Council's amnesty for dog owners who don't properly care for their animals vilifies owners who love their pets, the NZ Kennel Club says. Photo / iStock
Auckland Council's amnesty for dog owners who don't properly care for their animals vilifies owners who love their pets, the NZ Kennel Club says. Photo / iStock

Auckland Council's amnesty for dog owners who don't properly care for their animals vilifies owners who love their pets, the NZ Kennel Club says.

After a number of serious dog attacks, the council is granting hefty micro-chipping, desexing and registration discounts in an effort to better track what they class as malicious breeds.

Owners of "menacing dogs" which are not registered for 2015/16 and who come forward to register their animal for the 2016/2017 year can do so for free. The $300 fine for failing to register a dog will also be waived.

On top of registration the council will desex, microchip and provide muzzles for $25.

But New Zealand Kennel Club president Clyde Rogers said dogs classified as menacing under the Dog Control Act weren't the ones that attacked.

He said purebreds classed as menacing, such as purebred terriers, were not the problem.

Dogs that attacked were usually crossbreeds and for the most part, owners of purebreds looked after their dogs better than anyone else.

"A lot of the dogs I've seen images of have been crossbreed dogs, so I think we do need to be really careful when we label breeds because a lot of the dogs are actually hybrid breeds and that brings with it a lot of issues about breed identification."

Mr Rogers said any dog could attack someone and there were many reasons a dog attacked. He said focusing solely on a breed would not stop people and children being mauled.

He said a greater emphasis needed to be placed on socialising dogs and educating young children on how to act around pets.

"Without doubt a child's behaviour can contribute to situations where a child gets bitten," Mr Rogers said.

Mr Rogers said educational programmes - such as the in-school programme Bark, which was proving very effective - needed more resources.

Education won't be enough for Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff - he wants a complete ban of pitbull terriers.

"I think something more has to be done. The number of dog attacks in January this year were double what they were a couple of years ago. Every day there's a couple of hospitalisations caused by dog attacks."

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

Mr Goff said a lot of attacks were carried out by unregistered dogs with unfit owners, and the council's approach would address that.

However, he said a review of dog control laws was needed. He is calling for all pitbulls to be desexed.

"It seems to me that there are breeds of dog that are 20 times more likely than the average dog to attack a human being - pitbull terriers are in that category. I don't think we can turn a blind eye to that."

Auckland councillor and regulatory bylaws chairman Calum Penrose said the council will be hunting down those who don't use the amnesty, and their dogs seized.

The council's amnesty will run until June 30.

- NZ Herald

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