Dog owners who fail to look after, microchip or register their pets could soon see themselves facing swifter justice under a new law passed by Parliament.

MPs on Wednesday voted through a bill introduced by National MP Ian McKelvie that will see low-level dog control offences sorted out by court magistrates and Justices of the Peace, rather than having to go in front of a District Court.

McKelvie said the bill was intended to ease the frustration that dog owners and authorities faced in backlogs of cases and would take about 400 minor cases out of the court system, freeing up judges.

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"In my years as Manawatu District mayor I saw first-hand the concerns of dog owners and council animal control officers over the long and frustrating wait times for these cases to be resolved," McKelvie said.

The law covers both penalties against owners who lose control of their dogs and those who don't look after their canines properly.

Some of the offences that will now bypass the court system include failing to properly feed and care for a dog, not micro-chipping or registering the animal and the fraudulent sale of dangerous dogs.

More serious offences potentially carrying terms of imprisonment, as well as a few others that have been excluded, will still go through the courts.


The legislation received the backing of National, Labour and New Zealand First, but was opposed by the Greens and ACT.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told the House the bill would weaken due legal process and would mean that some of the decisions being made by the court were too big to pass on.

"We do actually respect the sponsor of the bill and the problem that this legislation is trying to address," she said.

"[But] the hypothetical situation where we are dealing with an infringement with say, a $3000 fine, up to the maximum, and where dog destruction is imminent is a big deal. That is a big decision to be made."

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