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Marc My Words -

Marc My Words

United Future NZ-Christchurch Supplement

Much has been written about wayward dogs of late. This is hardly surprising considering the ordeal of Michaela Haar in Christchurch and the savage mauling of seven-year-old Carolina Anderson in Auckland. Both stories, while being merely the tip of the iceberg with regard to the violence done by dogs, are qualitatively quite different.

Michaela was bitten when she put her nose through a hole in a gate of a private home. As terrible as it was for her (she will require some plastic surgery as a result), and despite the dog breaching the Dog Control Act, it may be reasonable to question where the parental control was. A four year old cannot be held responsible for her inquisitiveness but similarly, a dog properly fenced in its own home by responsible dog owners should not have to second guess the parental obligations of another.

The Auckland case is another matter entirely. A park or reserve is a public area where those who enjoy it are entitled to expect to be safe from harm. Those that flout the rules by letting their dogs go off the leash are as culpable as if driving drunk or walking into a Mall with a loaded firearm. The only difference is the choice of weapon. And lets face it, a dog can certainly fit the description of a weapon; the police use them and so do some members of the public who are fearful of a home invasion.

And the solution?

All dog owners are presently required to obtain a license. I suggest that we raise the cost of these licenses to a level that pays for these violations. Additionally we could offer a substantial rebate to those who obtain certification from a council recognized dog obedience school. We should then attach penalties to dog owners in proportion to the consequence and in line with other means by which such a result could occur. From a victims point of view it matters not one jot that the crime was visited upon them by knife, cricket bat or dog.

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