Unwanted dogs to be killed by vet not firearm

By Tessa Johnstone

South Wairarapa District Council has voted to change its policy on shooting unwanted and dangerous dogs, opting for euthanasia by a vet instead.

Planning and environment manager Glenn Bunny said media coverage and negative feedback from members of the public on the policy of killing dogs with firearms had prompted the council to review its current methods.

Mr Bunny recommended to councillors that the preferred method be euthanasia by a vet, in line with industry best practice, which was voted for unanimously and without debate at a full council meeting yesterday.

"It's not good enough to say it's legal so it's okay," said Mr Bunny. "We're now implementing best practice ... it's been a good democratic process."

Dogs will now only be killed using a firearm if there is a significant safety issue for other animals or people.

The change in policy would also minimise the impact on the council's dog control officer.

"The trauma to him was significant, he hated doing that part of his job. He accepted it as part of his job and did it professionally and kindly, but he's happy he no longer has to do it himself."

Mr Bunny said the council had negotiated a discount with a local vet for the euthanasia and disposal of unwanted and dangerous dogs, which number about 10 per year in the district and would cost the council about $1000.

Masterton District Council spokesman Sam Rossiter-Stead said that, in line with animal welfare laws, the council had a strong preference for dogs to be euthanised by a vet but a firearm could still be used where the welfare of animals or staff was at risk.

More than 109 dogs were put down by Masterton District Council in the past financial year, 89 by firearm.

Carterton District Council's policy for more than 40 years has been to euthanise by firearm or by vet, depending on the circumstances, and 14 dogs were euthanised in the past financial year.

Chief executive Colin Wright said the council did not have any plans to review the policy as it had not been identified as an issue in Carterton.


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