Auckland Council has launched an initiative aimed at reducing the harm done by menacing dogs in vulnerable communities.
Councillor Calum Penrose, Chair of the Regulatory and Bylaws Committee, has announced a Menacing Dogs Amnesty in a bid to get menacing dogs registered, micro-chipped and most importantly de-sexed.
The amnesty will run until 30 June 2016 and is available to owners of dogs classified as a menacing type, particularly American Pit Bull Terriers, which are not registered for the 2015/2016 year. If the dog is registered prior to 1 July 2016, the council will waive the registration fee for the 2016/2017 year.
During the 10-week amnesty period, dog owners who have failed to register their dogs until now will have the $300 failure to register fine waived.
$25 for de-sexing, micro-chipping
Additionally, the council will provide de-sexing, micro-chipping and muzzles for a nominal $25 fee. After one year, the council will provide a Responsible Dog Owner Licence to candidates who qualify.
However, from 1 July, Auckland Council’s Animal Management team will conduct a widespread enforcement campaign. Any unregistered menacing dogs will automatically be seized and the owners fined.
Anyone caught with an unregistered menacing dog prior to 1 July will be given the opportunity to work with the council and join the amnesty. However, if they refuse, they will also be fined and their dog seized.
Cr Penrose says a spate of recent attacks highlights the need for action and Auckland Council is best placed to take the lead to reduce harm in vulnerable communities.
Call for Government action
“A dog attack affects an entire community. It leaves victims with permanent scars, both physically and emotionally, and can tear families apart.
“However, we recognise that this amnesty is a short term solution and we cannot do this alone. 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,” says Cr Penrose.
The call for change is being echoed by Mayor Len Brown, who says stronger legislation will help to reduce the harm communities in Auckland face every day.
“Working alongside the government will allow us to tackle this very important issue head on. In the long term, it will reduce the strain on our resources and on the health system.”
Dog attacks on the rise
Auckland Council’s Manager Animal Management, Geoff Keber, says that in Auckland, statistics show pit bulls and their crosses are 20 times more likely than any other breed to be involved in a serious attack.
“We also know that dog attacks in the region are on the rise. In November 2014, there were 58 recorded attacks and 55 bites. However by January of this year, those numbers reached an all-time high, with 113 attacks and 90 bites recorded.”
Mr Keber says there is also an over-representation of dog attacks in some areas of the region, particularly in the south.
“While this offer is open to everyone across the region, we will be reaching out and focusing our efforts on those communities that are most at risk,” he says.
Over the coming weeks, Aucklanders will see advertising and information distributed in a number of different languages. A direct contact number (0800 462 685) has also been established for people to find out more about how they can take up the offer. People can also phone this number for emergency response in the wake of an attack.