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Action Needed to Strengthen Dog Control Powers

Action Needed to Strengthen Dog Control Powers

Local authorities would welcome amendments to dog control laws that gave more powers to dog control officers and strengthened existing registration processes for dogs, Local Government New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Winder said today. Commenting on rising public concern about the dangers posed by aggressive dogs, Mr Winder said the sector’s general view was that dog control officers needed greater powers.

“Overall the Dog Control Act 1996 is a good piece of legislation and has provided a much better framework for local authorities to exercise their dog control responsibilities under.”

However, there are some aspects of the Act that need strengthening. At the moment, dog control officers cannot seize a dog for rushing or threatening behaviour and can only seize a dog on public property or ‘at large’, ruling out at seizure on private property.

“Dog control officers are also unable to seize or retain a dog where an officer, on reasonable grounds, believes that the dog will cause harm, or the owner will allow it to offend again. In other words, the officer cannot detain the dog until a prosecution case against its owner is heard and decided upon.”

Mr Winder said that he and the President of Local Government New Zealand, Basil Morrison, would be meeting with Local Government Minister Hon Chris Carter this week to discuss the issues.

He said another potential solution to the issue of aggressive dogs was changing the law to allow councils to use more technologically advanced methods of dog registration.

Finalising the remaining aspects of the New Zealand Standard on microchipping, and establishing a national database for registration purposes that could store the unique identifier used in microchipping animals, would also help local authorities to control potentially dangerous dogs.

“This would provide greater protection for responsible dog owners, and allow for much faster identification of registered dogs who were involved in the types of horrific attacks that have occurred in recent times,” said Mr Winder.

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