Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Dog attacks force council to rethink bylaws

The draft dog bylaw is geared toward public safety after more than 320 dog attacks. Photo / Thinkstock
The draft dog bylaw is geared toward public safety after more than 320 dog attacks. Photo / Thinkstock

All Auckland residents may need a licence next year to have more than one dog on a property after a regional revamp of bylaws aiming to penalise irresponsible owners.

The draft dog bylaw for the Super City is also leaning heavily towards public safety after more than 320 dog attacks during the first half of the year.

The Auckland Council is trying to enforce the varying policies and bylaws of the seven councils it has replaced.

Its plans for reducing dog problems will be put up for public debate in February, said principal policy analyst Paul Wilson.

But proposed bylaws are likely to include the licence requirement for having more than one dog.

Auckland SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge has argued that people, not dogs, should be licensed.

Licensing owners for the privilege of having a dog would drive home their obligations to that animal and to the community, he said.

The Upper Harbour Local Board believes owners should have to pass a competency test as well as showing they have enough room on the property for animals.

A councillor on the draft bylaw working party, Dr Cathy Casey, owns two dogs.

"There are 107,000 dogs in the region and 96,000 are registered - that's a lot of dog owners," she said.

"In some places, for two dogs they charge an arm and a leg and in some there is no charge.

"For every part of the policy there are different rules across the region, so we are taking the best of them and trying to put fair recommendations to the public to tell us whether it's right or not.

"You want people and families to enjoy their dogs and take them to the parks and beaches.

"But you also have to make sure the public is safe.

"With ownership of a dog comes responsibilities and we are clear about that too - it's the whole ambit from the law abiding to the target, which is the non-registered dogs and the owners who just don't care."

Another proposed bylaw would require an owner to have a dog de-sexed if it is found to have been out of control more than once.

But the owner would have the right to object to any such finding by the enforcement officer.

Owners would also be required to carry the means to pick up faeces if their dog defecates in any place except their property.

The review calls for best-practice use of powers to enforce the registration and micro-chipping of dogs, seizing dogs threatening public safety and de-sexing animals classified as menacing.

DOG LICENCES

The problem

* Auckland Council has to enforce the policies and bylaws of the seven regional bodies that were replaced by the Super City.
* The plan will establish one standard law for the Super City region.

The proposals

* Aucklanders to need a licence to have more than one dog on their property.
* Compulsory de-sexing of animals found to have been out of control more than once.
* Owners required to pick up dog droppings anywhere other than on their property.

The numbers

* 107,000 dogs in the Auckland region.
* 96,000 registered.
* 320 dog attacks in first half of this year.

- NZ Herald

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