New laws tar­get dan­ger­ous dogs

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - BENN BATHGATE

The Gov­ern­ment has put some ex­tra bite into dan­ger­ous dog laws.

The new mea­sures were an­nounced by Associate Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Louise Up­ston, in Ro­torua last Wed­nes­day.

Up­ston un­veiled stricter penal­ties for dan­ger­ous dog own­ers, an im­proved data­base of dog attacks, a high risk dog li­cens­ing regime and a neu­ter­ing pro­gramme.

‘‘If you own a dog that’s iden­ti­fied as a higher risk, there is a higher re­spon­si­bil­ity. This makes that clear,’’ Up­ston said.

‘‘It’s in ev­ery­body’s best in­ter­ests if all dog own­ers are re­spon­si­ble. In­creas­ing good dog own­er­ship is at the heart of these pro­pos­als.’’

She said the Gov­ern­ment had re­jected an out­right ban on breeds con­sid­ered dan­ger­ous or men­ac­ing, hop­ing that there num­bers would re­duce through the neu­ter­ing pro­gramme.

Up­ston said the Gov­ern­ment planned to in­crease the cur­rent $20,000 pros­e­cu­tion fine for a men­ac­ing dog to $30,000, and in­crease prison terms from three years to five.

‘‘We will re­quire own­ers of dogs clas­si­fied as men­ac­ing or dan­ger­ous to ob­tain a ‘high-risk owner li­cense’ from their coun­cil.’’

Up­ston said li­cense hold­ers will be the sole ex­cep­tion for the adop­tion of men­ac­ing dogs from an­i­mal shel­ters.

She also said of­fences caus­ing en­dan­ger­ment or in­jury will be ex­tended to in­clude in­ci­dents tak­ing place on pri­vate prop­erty, where 60 per cent of dog attacks oc­cur.

A neu­ter­ing pro­gramme was also launched with Gov­ern­ment fund­ing of $850,000, with Ro­torua and Opotiki being the first dis­tricts to roll it out.

‘‘The neu­ter­ing pro­gramme will help re­duce the num­ber of men­ac­ing dogs in our com­mu­ni­ties, and minimise the risk of attacks.’’

Up­ston said the Gov­ern­ment and coun­cil part­ner­ship meant own­ers of dogs clas­si­fied as men­ac­ing could get the dog neutered for free, and may be el­i­gi­ble for re­duced mi­cro chip­ping and reg­is­tra­tion fees.

The leg­is­la­tion would be in­tro­duced in Fe­bru­ary.

New mea­sures will also en­able the Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish a regime to reg­u­late dog breed­ers.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic will have an op­por­tu­nity to have a say on the changes dur­ing the Se­lect Com­mit­tee process.

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