New laws target dangerous dogs
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.