Keeping the community safe from dog attacks is "everyone's responsibility", says Masterton District Council spokesman Sam Rossiter-Stead, following a nationwide dog-attack debate.

The debate, which follows a spate of attacks, including one where a 7-year-old boy was savaged by a pitbull in South Auckland, has raised the question of whether some "menacing breeds" should be made illegal and whether the behaviour of dogs is a result of treatment by their owners.

Despite this surge in dog attacks nationwide, Mr Rossiter-Stead said it has not been an increasing problem for Masterton, where "any dog attack is one too many".

"We are working hard with the community to keep dog attacks at an absolute minimum," he said.


"We've got a team of three out there the whole time, but keeping our community safe from dog attacks is everyone's responsibility and everyone's role is important -- the role our animal control unit plays, the role the owners play, and having members of the public just being vigilant really is crucial."

The council enforces the Dog Control Act, which contains a number of mechanisms by which dogs can either be classified as dangerous, menacing by deed, or menacing by breed.

"One of the things we do is we produce a range of educational brochures so that everyone is fully aware of what dog owners' rights and requirements are -- whether they be visiting dog owners, local, or owners whose dog is classified," Mr Rossiter-Stead said.

The responsibility of dog attacks "certainly lies with the owner".

"If an owner purchases a dog which is classified as a menacing breed, then most certainly it is their responsibility," he said.

"And if their dog is later classified as menacing through its actions, then again the responsibility for any attack lies solely with the owner."

In the 2014/15 year, Masterton's Animal Control responded to 100 urgent dog complaints, such as dogs attacking people or other animals and 94 per cent were responded to within an hour. They also responded to 1588 non-urgent complaints like barking, all of which were addressed within 24 hours.