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Council Seeking Greater Powers To Seize Dogs

Council Seeking Greater Powers To Seize Dogs

Manukau City Council is seeking the legal right to take action over “rushing dogs” as part of a clampdown on uncontrolled dogs which have been threatening and attacking people in Manukau, including posties.

It’s one of a number of changes to legislation that the Council is pursuing because legal difficulties are preventing the most effective enforcement.

City Manager Colin Dale earlier this week met with representatives of other organisations effected by the problem including the police, NZ Post and community representatives from the Maori and Pacific communities, to try to find a solution.

Mr Dale says, “Councils have only limited powers to deal with troublesome dogs or irresponsible owners and in many ways our hands are tied under current law. There are only limited circumstances under which we can seize dogs and we cannot do it without evidence of immediate threat to people.

“Fundamentally, we can only act after an attack and where there is a witness to confirm the identity of the animal. That identification has to stand up in court. Often, witnesses are too afraid to lay a complaint or to identify the dog.

“We want to be pro-active to prevent attacks happening but law changes are needed to allow us to do that.”

As a result of a series of attacks on and threats to staff, NZ Post last week decided to stop delivering mail to 300 homes in a grouping of Otara streets. However the mail delivery has now been restored after an agreement for dog control staff to accompany the posties on their rounds over the next week to guarantee their safety.

Around ten per cent of dogs in Manukau are unregistered, and most of the continuing problems stem from them rather than from registered dogs.

The Council’s dog control contractor, DSS, this week conducted a blitz on unregistered and roaming dogs in Otara.

However, despite recent media publicity about the dog problem there, that suburb is not the worst in Manukau. Over the past six months the number one area for complaints about dogs has been Manurewa, followed by Mangere, then Otara and Papatoetoe.

Mr Dale says, “The owners are fundamentally the source of the problem as they fail to control their pets. I want to see more owner education in future and the Council will be putting more resources into that. For example, many owners don’t realise that having a fence is not enough because dogs should be contained within their property if members of the public or service providers such as posties will be entering it.”

Anyone wishing to report a dog problem (including troublesome barking) should call the Council’s call centre on 2625104 (24hrs).

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