All dog attacks in the Far North will be given priority and responded to immediately by animal management officers, despite the Covid-19 lockdown.
While attending callouts, officers will adhere strictly to lockdown restrictions designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Far North District Council general manager – district services, Dean Myburgh said.
Myburgh said anyone concerned about aggressive or wandering dogs should call the council on 0800 920 029 with a full description of the animal as quickly as possible.
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"Like other council staff, our animal management officers are working from home during the four-week national pandemic lockdown. However, officers are available to immediately respond in person to reports of dog attacks or other priority one calls," he said.
Priority one calls include attacks on people or stock, as well as reports of livestock loose on district roads. He also wants to reassure Far North residents that all dogs in the council's care are being well looked after during the lockdown.
"We have reduced operations to a single shelter at Horeke, but this does not mean we have reduced the care we provide for dogs. A dedicated animal management officer is rostered on to meet the welfare needs of the dogs at all times."
He said veterinarians are working closely with the council and will attend the shelter immediately if required. Guidelines are now in place to eliminate physical contact between staff and veterinarians to eliminate the possibility of spreading the Covid-19 virus.
Similar procedures are also in place to ensure dogs can be returned to their owners, either at the owner's home or at an agreed place where two-metre physical distancing can be maintained.
Myburgh said while priority one calls will be responded to immediately during the lockdown, officers will not attend non-urgent calls, such as barking dogs. Where the owner of the dog is known to staff, they will contact that person and advise them of their responsibilities as a dog owner. Once pandemic restrictions are relaxed, an on-site visit will made.
He said the council successfully completed the purchase of Melka Kennels on Ngapuhi Rd before the level 4 pandemic alert and lockdown.
The council plans to convert the kennels into a new southern area animal shelter to replace the temporary facility at Horeke. Design and physical works to upgrade the kennels to meet national animal codes of welfare requirements will begin once pandemic restrictions are lifted.