A Bill that will speed up processing of dog control offences and divert low-level cases away from the District Court has gained broad support, the Bill’s promoter Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie says.

“The Dog Control (Category 1 Offences) Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament this week and is now headed to select committee for consideration with the support of Labour and NZ First.

“It proposes that low-level, or Category 1 offences be heard by Justices of the Peace and Community Magistrates, rather than our busy District Court judges. On current figures, it has the potential to take some 400 cases a year out of District Courts across the country and speed up the time taken to resolve them.

“In my years as Manawatu District Mayor I saw first-hand the frustrations of dog owners (sometimes errant owners) and Council animal control officers over the lengthy waiting times for these cases to be resolved.

“Part of that frustration is the pound fees, veterinary costs and other costs associated with responsible dog ownership - another part is the inordinate delays in simply getting the matter before the court.

“Dog control laws protect members of the public from the activities of dogs and also the actions – or lack of them – of their owners. One of the saddest outcomes here is that many dogs are punished, blamed or even put down because of the incompetence and negligence of their irresponsible owners.”

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