Prosecutions against dog owners whose canine companions attack people or animals have increased with the Whangārei District Council vowing to take a tough line on dangerous dogs.
The Whangārei District Council annual report on dog control and policy and practice showed five dog owners were prosecuted in the 2018/2019 financial year, which was up from one for the previous year and none in 2016/2017.
While criminal prosecutions rose the number of infringements for offences under the Dog Control Act 1996 handed out by animal control officers dropped from 976 to 715 last financial year.
The highest number of fines dished out was to owners who failed to register their dogs (321), failure to keep dog controlled or confined (203), and failure to implant microchip transponder in dog (174).
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Last year there were 1883 calls to report wandering dogs, 293 attacks and 242 incidents where dog rushed at either people or stock - all of which had increased from the previous year.
On a positive note more dog owners were active in registering their pooches with 12,109 on council records up from 9081.
A WDC spokesperson said dog control officers were focused on incidents of attacking dogs.
"Attacks are when the most damage can be done and if we can prevent a person or an animal being injured then we will prosecute."
The council said more resources had been given to dog control and now there was a full strength team operating.
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"We are improving our investigation strategies to get cases to court and that has been steadily improving over the last couple of years."
Last week five people on dog attack charges appeared in the Whangārei District Court.
Those who were called in court included William Anderson, 40, of Oakleigh, facing a charge of owning a dog that attacked a goat on June 13, 2019; Dameon Herbert, 36, Kensington, owner of a dog which attacked another dog on June 4, 2019; Jacqueline Uttley, 68, Maungakaramea, owner of a dog who attacked a person on May 22, 2019; Christopher Turnor, of Morningside, owner of a dog who attacked a person on November 21, 2018 and Michael Tubby, 54, of Takahiwai, owner of a dog that rushed at a horse causing a woman to be endangered and a charge of being the owner of a dog that attacked a horse, both on May 31, 2019.
The five people return back in court over the next two months as the cases progress through the court.
Armourguard started providing dog control services for the council from September 16, 2016, and operate 24 hours from a council-owned animal management shelter based on Kioreroa Rd, Whangārei.
There were 67 dogs classified as menacing under the Dog Control Act, mainly the American pitbull terrier type.
De-sexing menacing dogs was key to reducing dog-related harm and in September 2016, central government announced a national plan to reduce the risk and harm of dog attacks. Whangārei District Council was able to access the funding up to June 30, 2019 via collaboration with Auckland Council to neuter menacing type dogs in the district.
Another success story was the work done between the officers and SPCA in rehoming some of the seized animals.
Thirty-three dogs were rehomed from the shelter in 2018/2019.
In June 2019 an agreement was entered into with Saving Hope, a charitable trust which rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes dogs which is expected to increase the number of dogs that could be rehomed in the future.