More bite for dan­ger­ous dogs

Rotorua Review - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - By BENN BATH­GATE

The Govern­ment have put some ex­tra bite into dan­ger­ous dog laws and there’s an ex­tra fo­cus on Ro­torua.

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.

‘‘The ma­jor­ity are good dog own­ers and we’re fo­cus­ing on where the risk is,’’ she said.

Up­ston said Govern­ment in­tended 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.

Own­ers would need to show they were ca­pa­ble of han­dling a high risk dog, that they un­der­stood their le­gal obli­ga­tions and have their prop­erty in­spected.

‘‘The dog’s tem­per­a­ment will also need to be tested.’’

Up­ston said li­cense hold­ers will

‘‘It's in ev­ery­body's best in­ter­ests if all dog own­ers are re­spon­si­ble.’’

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.

‘‘Own­ers of men­ac­ing dogs in Ro­torua and Opotiki wish­ing to neuter their dog should con­tact their coun­cil.’’

The leg­is­la­tion would be in­tro­duced in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

As­so­ciate Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Govern­ment Louise Up­ston and Lucy the dog at Wed­nes­day’s an­nounce­ment.

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