Keeping dogs a positive part of life in Auckland has kept the council’s Animal Management team busy over the past year.
The council’s in-house Animal Management unit is the largest of its type in the southern hemisphere. It provides both field services and animal shelters, supported by a regional dispatch team as well as dedicated specialists.
The 2016/2017 Animal Management Annual Report, which was presented to the council’s Regulatory Committee on 9 November, comes after two full financial years of operation, which has seen combined savings of $1.6 million.
Councillor Linda Cooper, Regulatory Committee chair, congratulated to the Animal Management team on their achievements and excellent work over the year.
“Every day the team work tirelessly to ensure that dogs are cared for responsibly and towards seeing fewer dogs impounded. It’s been an incredibly busy year, but they have achieved some fantastic results that will have a positive impact on the lives of Aucklanders.”
“Responsible dog ownership helps with this. Registering your dog easily allows for it to be returned to their home and provides opportunities for owners to educate themselves about their responsibilities.
“This will all help to reduce the number of dogs that end up at our shelters, as well as the conditions that lead to dogs being unsuitable for rehoming,” says Councillor Cooper.
Busy year keeping Aucklanders safe
This year saw a total of 96,699 dogs registered through the annual dog registration process, and having such a high number of dogs in the region has kept the Animal Management team busy.
The team received a total of 37,699 requests for service over the year. Of these, 14,787 were priority one requests, which require attendance within an hour or less.
Animal Management responded to 99.5 per cent of these priority one requests within this optimal timeframe, an improvement from 99.2 per cent in the previous year and well exceeding their target of 95 per cent.
The council also prosecuted 217 people for breaches of the Dog Control Act.
New homes found for all adoptable dogs
For the second year in a row, the team found new homes for 100 per cent of dogs that were suitable for adoption. A total of 545 dogs were rehomed across the year.
“We’re incredibly proud of the fact that every dog that can be adopted finds a loving home through our shelters. This is no longer something we see as a target to be reached, but our standard way of operating. We will hold dogs for as long as we need to find them a suitable home,” says Nikki Marchant-Ludlow, Auckland Council’s Manager Animal Management.
“Our team is dedicated to ensuring every adoptable dog finds a new home. We work with rescue groups and other organisations to make sure this happens and have developed strong relationships with agencies that adopt suitable working dogs.”
A total of 8,323 dogs were impounded across the council’s five animal shelters over the year, 198 fewer dogs than in the previous year. 60 per cent of these dogs were returned to their owners, which is consistent with 2015/2016.
“It’s great to see a reduction in the number of dogs coming into our shelters. This speaks to the work we’ve done registering dogs when we’re out and about, and the fact that owners can pay Animal Management officers directly,” says Ms Marchant-Ludlow.
“We’re also so pleased we have continued to return the majority of impounded dogs to their owners, which is our preferred option whenever possible.”
Addressing the harm caused by menacing dogs
As a result of the success of Auckland Council’s menacing dog amnesty last year, central government provided funding for a nationwide subsidised de-sexing programme for menacing dogs.
The council successfully applied for $290,000 of this funding, which was used to implement the TXT2DESEX programme, which will allow Animal Management to de-sex a further 1,000 menacing dogs at no cost to the dog owner.
“So far we have over 450 dogs registered for the programme, almost 350 of which have already been de-sexed,” says Ms Marchant-Ludlow.
“De-sexing menacing dogs is a key part of reducing dog-related harm, as it can help reduce aggression and wandering in dogs. Our statistics clearly show that those who do register and de-sex their dogs are much less likely to have dogs that cause serious harm.”
Animal Management has also identified and classified a total of 4,195 menacing dogs and 36 dangerous dogs, which is a significant increase from 2,373 in the previous financial year.
“This increase is largely a result of the amnesty, which brought a large number of previously unknown dogs forward to us for classification,” says Ms Marchant-Ludlow.
“Having these dogs registered, and thereby making us aware of them and their whereabouts, allows us to ensure they are adequately monitored and that their owners are controlling them as they are required to.”
Promoting education and responsible dog ownership
A total of 24,390 dog owners now hold a Responsible Dog Owner Licence (RDOL), an increase of 3,742 from last year.
“RDOL holders have proven they’re are educated and understand their responsibilities as dog owners, and that they care for their dogs so they’re content, healthy and do not cause a nuisance to others. It’s fantastic to see more owners take up this opportunity and ensure they’re sufficiently informed and responsible,” says Ms Marchant-Ludlow.
The Animal Management team has also done a lot of work to educate both owners and non-owners alike over the past year. As part of this, the team was present a range of animal-related and community events, including Pasifika, Sirens and Sounds, Māngere Community Day, Bark in the Pool, Parnell Rose Festival and the Auckland Pet and Animal Expo. They also provided sessions on how to enter a property safety and stay safe around dogs for over 1,200 at-risk workers.
“Engaging with and educating the community is an important part of our work as it allows us to proactively promote responsible dog ownership, raise awareness and knowledge of the work we do, and teach Aucklanders about dog safety, especially in our most at-risk communities.”
“We’re looking to do more of this work in the future, and work with groups in hard to reach communities to ensure as much of Auckland is as safe and informed as possible.”
For further information, read the full 2016/2017 Animal Management Annual Report.