New Zealand Law Society - New law coming to reduce risk of dog attacks

New law coming to reduce risk of dog attacks

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A law change is being planned to curb the risk and harm caused by dangerous dog breeds with a reputation for attacking people.

Associate Minister for Local Government, Louise Upston, has announced a new national action plan.

Under the plan high risk dogs and their owners, rather than all dogs and owners, will be subject to stricter controls under changes to dog control laws. This will compliment a renewed focus on education, as well as new work with local government on best practice guidelines for councils.

"I know first-hand the joy that dogs bring to your life and that there are thousands of loved family pets in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the statistics clearly show that dog bite incidents are on the rise and children are overrepresented as victims of dog attacks," she says.

The plan consists of 3 parts:

  •  Law changes and neutering programme.
  •  Best practice guide.
  •  A public education campaign.

Ms Upston says the programme is being launched over summer and is aimed at reducing the risk of attacks on people.

"This initiative involves Government funding of $850,000 to subsidise the neutering of high risk dogs. Neutering has been proven to reduce aggression in dogs which is important as we move into summer months and the school holidays," she says.

Law changes will require owners of dangerous and menacing dogs to: 

  •  Neuter all high-risk dogs. 
  •  Keep high-risk dogs in a fenced in area at home that allows visitors dog-free access to at least one house entrance. 
  •  Display signs at the front of their property alerting people of high-risk dogs.
  •  Ensure dangerous or menacing dogs wear collars identifying them as high-risk.
  •  Animal shelters will also be prevented from adopting out high-risk dogs to new owners.

Legislation is to be introduced in February 2017.