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Central Govt Action Needed To Control Dogs

Central Govt Action Needed To Control Dogs

Hutt City Mayor John Terris has called on central government to immediately ban the importation of dangerous breeds of dog and give local government more powers to seize dogs from private property.

"These are two things the Government can do immediately, if it is really serious about measures to control dangerous dogs, said Hutt City Mayor John Terris.

"What we need now is action.

"We have the ludicrous and totally unacceptable situation now where a dog that is threatening members of the public from within private property cannot be seized until it physically injures somebody."

The length of time it takes from the time a dog is seized until prosecution is another area that Mayor Terris believes needs to be addressed.

"It takes around four months from the time a dog is seized until prosecution of the dog owner and, if it has been sought, destruction of the dog. The cost of holding dogs for this length of time is very expensive, with little chance of recovering this cost from irresponsible owners, said Mayor Terris.

Mayor Terris said that the vast majority of dog owners were responsible, but that a hard core few kept dangerous dogs as a 'macho' statement and they were spoiling it for the rest.

"These people generally don't register their dogs and are themselves fairly transient, which makes enforcement difficult."

"I have instructed officers to look at what we could do to deal with this problem and whether we have any powers under the new Local Government Act that we could use to crack down on irresponsible owners."

"The message we want to drive home is that owning a dog carries with it certain responsibilities and if you aren't prepared to undertake basic measures to ensure the public are not put at risk, then we will take that dog off you."

"The public have a right to feel safe in their city and feel they can walk freely and without fear in public areas. For our part I will be suggesting to Council that we undertake a review of the workings of the dog control laws and policies, in this city, involving public consultation, since stories of dissatisfaction with the current regime are flowing thick and fast from elsewhere in New Zealand."

Fact file:

· Hutt City employs five full time dog control officers

· There are around 7,600 dogs in Hutt City

· One family in six has a dog in Hutt City, in some areas that number rises to one in two families

· The 'problem' areas are Naenae, Taita, Stokes Valley and Wainuiomata (although enforcement action by Council has had an impact in these areas)

· In the past 12 months there were 679 reported dog incidents and attacks on people (this covers everything from dogs rushing at people, minor nips, bruises and puncture wounds)

· There have been three serious dog attacks in Hutt City, in the past six years

· The problem dogs are frequently cross bred dogs, with bull terrier lineage.

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