Media Releases

Further announcements on the national action plan to reduce the risk and harm of dog attacks

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 - 10:00
Local Government

The Associate Minister of Local Government Louise Upston has announced a second tranche of proposals as part of the national action plan to reduce the risk and harm of dog attacks.

The additional changes made in this second tranche will ensure the owners of high-risk dogs are fit for the job, introduce stricter penalties for owners of dogs that attack, and improve data about dog attacks.

“We will require owners of dogs classified as menacing or dangerous to obtain a ‘high-risk dog owner licence’ from their council. Owners will need to show they are capable of handling a high risk dog, show they understand their legal obligations and have their property inspected. The dog’s temperament will also need to be tested.

“Licence holders will be the only exception for the adoption of menacing dogs from animal shelters,” she says.

Maximum penalties for dog attacks causing serious injury will also be increased, and offences causing endangerment or injury will be extended to include incidents occurring on private property, not just public spaces.

The new measures will also enable the Minister of Local Government to have a regulation-making power to establish a regime to regulate dog breeders.

Back in September Ms Upston announced the first tranche of measures for the National Action Plan, which included the establishment of Best Practice Guidance for local councils, the development of a behavioural change campaign to encourage responsible dog ownership and better public safety, and a nationwide programme for the neutering of menacing dogs.

Today saw the launch of the neutering programme which includes Government funding of $850,000, with Rotorua and Opotiki the first districts to undertake rolling it out.

Central and local government will work together to provide discounted neutering for menacing dogs until the end of June 2017. The Government is also seeking proposals from other councils and animal welfare organisations to expand the programme to other areas.

“The neutering programme will help to reduce the number of menacing dogs in our communities, and minimise the risk of attacks. Owners of menacing dogs in Rotorua and Opotiki wishing to neuter their dog should contact their council.

“This partnership with councils means that owners may not have to pay anything for their menacing dog to be neutered, and may also be eligible for reduced fees for microchipping and registration, depending on the details of each council's scheme,” Ms Upston says.

Ms Upston intends to introduce legislation in February 2017. Members of the public will have an opportunity to have their say on the legislative changes during the Select Committee process.

Full details of the proposals can be viewed on the DIA website at: www.dia.govt.nz/Resource-material-Dog-Control-Index