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Changes For Dogs And Dog Owners From 1 December

MEDIA RELEASE
18 November 2003


Changes For Dogs And Dog Owners From 1 December


From 1 December 2003 the Dog Control Amendment Act 2003 comes into force, bringing sought-after changes to increase public safety and improve identification of a dog’s owner.

Kevin Jackson, Manukau City Council’s Manager Environmental Health & Compliance, says the majority of responsible dog owners shouldn’t panic about the changes.

“Most of the changes will be introduced over a period of time. For instance microchipping of dogs will not take effect until 2006. The intent of the Act is to safeguard the community from menacing and dangerous dogs and their owners,” said Mr Jackson.

One of the most immediate changes will be for owners of American Pit Bull Terriers, Brazilian Fila, Dogo Argentino, and Japanese Tosa. The Act requires Council to classify these dogs as ‘menacing’. Owners of menacing dogs will need to ensure that their dog is muzzled and controlled on a leash in public.

“In Manukau we have about 300 registered dogs that have been identified by their owners as Pit Bulls. 96 of these have been registered as American Pit Bull Terriers. We are setting up a process to contact these owners in the coming weeks, inform them of their new obligations, and establish a process that allows owners to object to the classification if they wish.”


Other new changes as a result of the Act include:

- Seizure – Animal control officers now have powers to seize an unregistered dog immediately. In the past a Dog Control Officer would issue an infringement notice and could only seize a dog if the infringement fee was not paid. This could delay seizure for up to 3 months.
- Fines - Infringement fees for unregistered and uncontrolled dogs have increased from $200 to $300. An owner of a dog that has caused serious injury is liable to conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $20,000.
- Bylaws and Policies – Council’s dog control policies must be reviewed by 1 September 2004. Dog control bylaws must also be reviewed within 60 days of the dog policy being reviewed.
- Leashing – Dog owners are now required to carry a leash with them at all times if they take their dog out in public (regardless of whether they are exercising their dog in an off-leash area)
- Microchipping – From July 2006 all newly registered dogs, menacing dogs, dangerous dogs and impounded dogs will be required to be microchipped.
- Access and fencing – Initial proposals requiring secure fencing to allow a dog free access to at least one door of a dwelling or house were not upheld in the new Act.

Mr Jackson says exercise areas remain the same but may be reviewed as part of the wider policy and bylaw review.

For more information relating to animal management in Manukau City visit www.manukau.govt.nz or call Council’s 24hr call centre on Ph 262 5104.

Ends

Note to journalists – The Dog Amendment Act was passed on Thursday 13 November 2003. At this stage Council is working through the legal processes, changing over computer systems, setting up committees, updating call centre FAQ’s, and notifying dog owners of the changes to the Act. The information supplied in this media release is all we can comment on at this stage while we work through the details.


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