Herald has part to play in keeping community safe from dogs

Opinion: Councillor Calum Penrose, Chair of the Regulatory and Bylaws Committee

Publish Date : 22 Apr 2016
Herald has part to play in keeping community safe from dogs

The New Zealand Herald has written 16 stories about dog attacks in past month. The publication clearly recognises how serious an issue this is for our communities.

It is disappointing then that they couldn’t attend a press conference yesterday (21 April) to hear about a major initiative aimed at reducing the harm done by menacing dogs in vulnerable communities.

In fact, the only thing reported in the Herald today is comment from the NZ Kennel Club about how unfair the amnesty is on responsible dog owners.

Herald can do better

Come on New Zealand Herald, you can do better than this.

You’re part of Auckland as well and you have a responsibility to reflect the bigger picture on the issues that matter to Aucklanders.

Dog attacks in the region are on the rise. In November 2014, there were 58 recorded attacks and 55 bites. By January of this year, those numbers reached an all-time high, with 113 attacks and 90 bites recorded.

There is also a proportionately higher number of dog attacks in some areas of the region, particularly in the south.

Dog attacks can tear communities apart

A dog attack affects an entire community. It leaves victims with permanent scars, both physically and emotionally, and can tear families apart.

An amnesty is only a short-term solution. But it deserves more thoughtful coverage from our country’s largest daily newspaper.

And as for responsible dog owners – had the Herald sent a representative to yesterday’s media briefing, we would have been able to tell them about how the Responsible Dog Owners scheme already rewards responsible dog owners with discounted registration fees.

We can’t solve this problem alone. That’s why we are calling on the support of the government to make changes to the Dog Control Act to require all councils throughout New Zealand to tackle this issue.

I’d like to see the Act amended to include the compulsory de-sexing of menacing dogs unless lineage can be proven, the certification of owners of menacing dogs and a formal definition of an American Pit Bull.

Media has key role in reaching communities

I’d also like to see the Herald step up on this issue and play their part as a member of our community. The media still plays a key role in reaching communities, and they need to take that responsibility seriously.

Strong interest in amnesty from dog owners

On a positive note, by 3pm on Thursday we had our first pit bull terrier dropped off at the shelter for de-sexing , micro-chipping and registering. Since then we have had more than 300 calls to our call centres wanting to learn more about the amnesty and both Wellington and Tauranga city councils have been in touch wanting to learn more.

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