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Some background notes on dogs in Christchurch

Some background notes on dogs in Christchurch

This information may be of assistance to reporters and producers covering yesterday�fs attack on a child in the city. The dog has been surrendered to the Council by its owner.

Mark Vincent, who manages the City Council�fs animal control team, says of the incident, �gWhenever this happens it�fs terrible and we really feel for that little girl and her family. In this case I guess we�fve been pretty lucky because the owner�fs been really responsible in quickly coming forward and the family at least have that satisfaction.�h

Background

�œ City has about 28,500 registered dogs �œ

Of those, 67 are classed as dangerous. That means their owners pay higher registration fees and must always have their animal muzzled and on a lead when out. The dog must be neutered and the owner must tell the Council if they intend to change the dog�fs ownership and, when the incident has been judged to be serious, they are encouraged to have the animal destroyed. �œ

In each of the last two quarters the Council has taken about 60 priority 1 complaints (biting or rushing), which is down a little on previous quarters. �œ

The staff of eight animal control officers respond to calls within two hours. If the dog is reported to still be out, they generally arrive more quickly. Records show we are meeting or exceeding this target response time at least 90 per cent of the time. The service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. �œ

Council has for several months been reviewing its rules about dogs. It aims to better educate owners and the general public about the obligations of dog ownership. It is also in favour of a national law change which would allow local body staff other than animal control officers to assist with enforcement. �œ

There is no indication that any particular type or breed of dog is more likely to be dangerous. �œ

In general terms the Council tends not to prosecute. Instead, it issues infringement notices (which draw instant fines) for lesser incidents than bitings. For serious incidents, the Council tends to classify an animal as dangerous and encourage owners to have the animal destroyed. �œ

Fines include $200 for failing to keep a dog under control, $400 for allowing a dog which is believed to be dangerous to go unmuzzled. �œ

The dog control system is basically self-funding -- dog owners pay the cost of the system.

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