WARNING: The video in this article contains distressing footage.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has approved Invercargill City Council's use of a controversial captive bolt gun to euthanise impounded dogs.

Footage obtained by the Herald last week of an impounded dog being shot with a bolt gun and the officer knocking its head several times afterwards with their foot, sparked widespread controversy.

Craig Dunn, the co-founder of the animal welfare group Paw Justice, told NZH Focus he was disgusted by the footage. He believed councils should not be allowed to use captive bolt guns.


Animal behaviour expert Dr Elsa Flint agreed, saying the method was unacceptable.

However council's chief executive Richard King defended the way the dog was put down in the footage, saying the officer was "disengaging the dog from the equipment".

The council's policy is that if an impounded dog is not claimed within seven days, and is deemed unsuitable for re-homing, it will be humanely euthanised.

An MPI animal welfare inspector visited the council's dog pound on Tuesday.

MPI spokesman Murray Pridham said the inspector was satisfied with standards at the pound.

"Overall, the council's procedures are acceptable and comply with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

"While the use of a captive bolt gun is a lawful method of euthanising dogs, it is recommended that the use of a captive bolt gun be reviewed by a senior veterinarian," he said.

Pridham then pointed to The Animal Welfare (Dogs) Code of Welfare 2010, which recommends vets euthanise dogs by intravenous injection.


The council introduced the bolt method in April 2016, and has since euthanised 122 dogs in total. However the bolt was not used on all of them.

A council spokesperson said staff who used the captive bolt gun had been trained by the manufacturer's representative and they also had firearms licences.

"Two captive bolt firearms are used to ensure euthanasia is fast and painless.

"The dog is killed instantly."

And in regards to the footage obtained by the Herald, the spokesperson said: "The dog slumped against the loop of the catchpole, meaning the catchpole was caught between the dog's neck and the aluminium frame. The animal control officer was then unable to disengage and remove the catchpole from around the dog's neck because it was caught. The officer uses their foot to attempt to move the dog's head enough to release the catchpole's loop."

The footage was filmed early in the council's use of captive bolt guns and procedures had changed and further training had been undertaken, a council spokesperson said.

The council plans to continue using the method.