Far North District Council environmental services manager Far North District Council environmental services manager Darren Edwards expected residents of Harold Ave, in Kaikohe, to be relieved that one of the dogs believed to have attacked 95-year-old Jim Morgan last week had been impounded, but much more remained to be done.
"This does not resolve persistent dog control problems we have in parts of the district," he said.
"Since the December 16 attack on Mr Morgan and his dog Sandy, we have impounded 20 straying dogs and seized another two in the Kaikohe area. That illustrates how pervasive the problem of irresponsible dog ownership is. It is not just a Kaikohe problem; this is replicated across the district."
Mr Edwards said his staff shared residents' frustration regarding uncontrolled dogs.
"Many of these dog owners do not respect the law or council staff. They hide dogs after an attack, and refuse to co-operate with animal management officers. We have to operate within the law, and adhere to a high burden of proof when taking dog owners to court," he said.
"This means we rely on the community to help by providing witness statements, and, where necessary, testifying in court. We know this is not always easy, as witnesses may feel frightened of dog owners, who are often their neighbours."
That was the key reason behind the fact that there had so far been no prosecution after the December attack that resulted in Sandy being euthanased. He hoped that a $1000 reward that was now being offered by a member of the public to the first person providing information leading to the prosecution of the owner of the dogs would help.
"It isn't appropriate for the council to offer payment for information," Mr Edwards said, "but we are willing to facilitate a third-party offer in the interests of upholding the law and keeping the community safe."
He encouraged anyone who had witnessed the December attack, or knew someone who did, to contact him confidentially on 0800 920-029.
Meanwhile animal management officers were continuing to conduct door-to-door checks of randomly selected streets in problem areas across the district to ensure dogs were registered and under control.
"The Dog Control Act states that all dogs must be registered and under control. We are enforcing that, and will fine owners if they are unwilling to comply. However, we want to encourage responsible dog ownership, and will use our discretion where owners are willing to work with us to fulfil their legal obligations," he added.
He reminded dog owners of their "very clear legal responsibilities" to keep their pets under control at all times, and to ensure that they did not injure, endanger or intimidate people or other animals.