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Tough dog penalties no good if not used

31 January 2006

Tough dog penalties no good if not used

The NZ Kennel Club says that tough penalties in the Dog Control Act are no good if the Police and local councils fail to use the powers the Act gives them.

On Sunday night, Pauline Cornelius of Otaki suffered nine puncture wounds in her groin and a deep gouge on her leg when she was attacked by a vicious crossbreed.

"Responsible dog owners are outraged that little is being done," said Greg Kerr, chief executive of the NZ Kennel Club, the organisation of responsible dog owners.

"Section 58 of the Dog Control Act imposes up to three years jail and a $20,000 fine for owning a dog which causes serious injury.

"Where are any meaningful penalties being handed down?

"If a person had inflicted such serious injuries on Pauline Cornelius, the offender could expect to have been remanded in custody by now.

“But charges have not yet been laid in this case. Kapiti Coast District Council and NZ Police will have to explain to the public if they do not prosecute soon.

"Thankfully, the message on vicious cross-breeds is getting through. Pauline Cornelius described the dog as 'believed to be a pitbull' which is more accurate than saying it is one. The reality is that the pitbull label is a convenient shorthand for a range of bad mongrels. It is more accurate to call them what they are, vicious crossbreeds," said Greg Kerr.

The NZ Kennel Club is introducing the Canine Good Citizen scheme. That is a series of tests which assess a dog’s reactions and behaviour in a variety of situations and is awarded when the owner can demonstrate that their pet meets the required standard of good behaviour.

Canine Good Citizen certification is a way for a good owner to ensure that their control of their dog, and its behaviour, is up to the standard required by law.

ENDS

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