The Northland Age

Fear of dog attacks is real

Time to take action on roaming, fierce dogs in Far North

- Myjanne Jensen Climate Justice Taranaki

Today’s front-page story about Chris Radich and his terrifying experience of being attacked by a dog on his daily walk stirred up some very strong feelings for many, myself included.

I remember as a little girl living in Ipswich (a regional town outside of Brisbane, Australia) being afraid of roaming dogs and the sense of dread I would sometimes feel coming across a dog on my walk to and from school.

Back in those days (the 90s) it was quite normal to see dogs of all kinds running around without collars and without their owners aware of their whereabout­s.

I remember my instinctiv­e caution regarding dogs becoming a proper fear after my brother, at around 6 years old, was attacked by a small dog and later, I too came close to being attacked by a friend’s blue heeler.

I just happened to be walking in their yard unattended when the dog growled at me, baring its teeth and I knew right then and there I had better run out the gate or that was the end of me!

Once I got older and we moved closer to Brisbane, I do recall the odd dog here and there, but as the years went on, the number of unfenced dogs significan­tly reduced, as did the number of vicious dog attacks.

Part of why I think that was, was largely due to a clamp down on certain dog breeds in Brisbane.

Under Brisbane City Council’s Animals Local Law 2017, the following breeds of dogs are prohibited in Brisbane:

American pit-bull terrier or pit bull terrier

Dogo Argentino

Fila Brasileiro

Japanese tosa

Perro de Presa Canario or Presa canario.

If the BCC determines someone is in possession of a restricted breed, the council will immediatel­y seize the dog and may make an applicatio­n for a destructio­n order in accordance with the Animals Local Law 2017.

The Queensland Government also requires all dogs to be registered with their local council and it is a council requiremen­t to ensure your dog is kept behind a fence. Failure to provide an adequate enclosure can and will often result in a fine.

In Brisbane you can keep two dogs per residence without a permit, anything more you must apply for a permit. The keeping of more than four dogs over the age of three months is prohibited, unless the owner is a breeder.

As a result of this hard-line approach, in my experience, it feels a lot safer to walk around the streets of Brisbane as there doesn’t seem to be the same number of random dogs roaming around like there used to be and going for a run or taking an afternoon stroll feels safe.

Here in New Zealand, under the NZ Dog Control Act 1996, the importatio­n of American Pit Bull Terrier-type dogs, and Dogo Argentino, Brazilian Fila, Japanese Tosa and Perro de Presa Canario breeds is also prohibited.

However, the number of pit bull terrier (or what appear to be) that

I’ve seen around the Far North is scary and what also appeared to be the breed that attacked Mr Radich.

The number of dogs I see roaming around the streets, not just in

Kaitaia, but all over the Far North, means I’m reluctant to walk anywhere due to the mere fact that I’m quite concerned about being attacked.

Maybe I’m catastroph­ising, but it’s a reality that I think a lot of people probably face too.

All I can put it down to is poor care of the animals and not enough management of the people who own those dogs.

I think more stringent measures regarding how many dogs one can have on a property would be helpful as well, plus enforcing penalties should people fail to register their dogs or to adequately fence them would help deter people from being careless with their responsibi­lity as dog owners.

Maybe a regular presence of dog management people scouring the streets is what is needed to get things in check?

Climate change is undoubtedl­y manmade. We can stick our heads in the mud and

moan about not wanting to change anything and suffer more, or we can get on

with rapid transition now.

by floods, intense storms and droughts this year alone, costing millions in damages and loads of stress and heartbreak for those losing homes, sheds, stock and fences. It’s only getting worse, and farmers can either adapt and rapidly bring down their emissions or they and everyone else will suffer more.

We know at least 50 per cent of our emissions are directly from agricultur­e, not even counting the internatio­nal emissions from an industry that exports 80-95 per cent of their products. There is direct correlatio­n with the rise in emissions and colonial land theft and the rise of fossil fuel use and the industrial period of machines, agricultur­al chemicals and mass deforestat­ion. Climate change is undoubtedl­y manmade. We can stick our heads in the mud and moan about not wanting to change anything and suffer more, or we can get on with rapid transition now.

The intensific­ation and industrial­isation of the dairy industry — fuelled by importing feed from overseas and the use of synthetic fertiliser­s like urea — in Taranaki and elsewhere has increased our emissions while having a negative impact on the local environmen­t. The creeks and streams are struggling, there is a loss of biodiversi­ty and rural communitie­s are literally disappeari­ng with the closure of schools, shops and community halls due to a population decline. While the adverse impacts on our atmosphere can be measured, the social impacts are often forgotten.

Our group sat down with unions, councils and the oil and gas industry to work on a just transition plan for the fossil fuel sector. We now need to do the same for the dairy industry.

Rather than exporting 95 per cent of dairy as a cheap commodity, to be sold on the internatio­nal stock market, we need to work together to localise and diversify our food production.

When a dairy farmer on 200 hectares struggles to pay the bills, meanwhile market gardeners can grow vegetables on half an acre creating three full-time jobs while feeding the local community, it is clear that the agricultur­al sector has been pushed and trapped into a system created by the banks, farm advisers and industry lobby groups that is failing our planet, rural communitie­s and our local environmen­t.

We need an immediate stop to the import of palm kernel feed made from rainforest destructio­n in Borneo. We need to ban phosphate from wartorn Western Sahara.

We need to stop using synthetic fertiliser made from fossil fuels or hydrogen. Most importantl­y, we need to work together in rural communitie­s to shift away from exports towards regenerati­ve agricultur­e for local markets by diversifyi­ng our production, retiring farm land for indigenous reforestat­ion and re-building once thriving communitie­s.

Emily Bailey, Urs Signer

 ?? ?? The number of dogs roaming around the streets, not just in Kaitaia but all over the Far North, makes editor Myjanne Jensen reluctant to walk anywhere for fear of being attacked.
The number of dogs roaming around the streets, not just in Kaitaia but all over the Far North, makes editor Myjanne Jensen reluctant to walk anywhere for fear of being attacked.
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