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Dog law should target behaviour not breed

Dog law should target behaviour not breed

Dog behaviour, and not a dog's breed should be the focus of any dog control legislation, Labour MP Steve Chadwick said today.

“I’m proposing legislation that deals with antisocial and dangerous dogs' behaviour, not their breed.”

Mrs Chadwick is promoting her own Private Members Bill, the Dog Control (Dog Seizure) Amendment Bill.

“There are plenty of very well-behaved — and responsibly owned — pit bull terriers in New Zealand; it’s not them we should worry about.”

Mrs Chadwick’s legislation enhances the powers of dog control officers, making it easier for them to seize and impound dogs and enabling them to decide if the owner has made suitable enclosure provisions.

It also fixes the problem of Toot — the dog that was sentenced to death for mauling a cat that strayed into his territory — by making destruction orders an option for the Courts, rather than compulsory, where better confinement conditions might be good enough to eliminate risk to people, stock, poultry, domestic animal or protected wildlife.

“Not only is this provision more fair to dog owners and their dogs, but also it adds to community safety, ensuring an extra level of control for dog owners to do the right thing on their properties as well as in public spaces.

“The key is that it accepts that there are grey areas and therefore gives the court some flexibility.”

Mrs Chadwick said that a perception that the Local Government Law Reform Bill No.2 will fix the problem is wrong.

Part 1 of the Bill bans the American Pit Bull Terrier breed and provides for banning other breeds.

“That’s all very well intentioned, but it says nothing new — and can do nothing — about mongrels and unregistered dogs. These — and their irresponsible and thoughtless owners — are the real culprits,” said Mrs Chadwick.

“The recent attack on Carolina Anderson in Auckland was by a suspected bull mastiff-rottweiler-labrador cross. The Government bill that’s there at the moment would do nothing about that.

“This is why the Local Government Law Reform Bill No.2 is daft ... and a good reason why it deserves to languish on the Order Paper.”

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