The Ensign reporter Laura Shipley takes a look at the Southland District Council and Clutha District Council dog control laws.
Dog control bylaws and statistics vary from region to region.
In the Southland district there are 13,426 dogs, 14 of which are considered dangerous and 59 of which are considered menacing.
Southland District Council environmental health manager Michael Sarfaiti said there were two different classifications for menacing dogs.
“Certain breeds were considered menacing under New Zealand law,” Mr Sarfaiti said.
These breeds are Brazilian Fila, American pitbull terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and presa Canario.
They are banned from being imported into New Zealand.
Only one dog in the Southland district came under this category.
The others menacing dogs were considered so because of their behaviour, Mr Sarfaiti said.
“These are dogs that may pose a threat. It [the classification] is usually issued after an infringement.”
A dog was classified as a dangerous if it posed a serious threat, he said.
Dogs classified as menacing or dangerous have to be muzzled.
A dog control officer or a dog ranger may impound any dog at large in breach of Southland District Council dog control bylaw 2015.
In the Southland district there are four disqualified owners and none classed as probationary.
Mr Sarfaiti said owners could be probationary or disqualified if they received three infringements within two years.
Whether the owner was probationary or disqualified was decided on a case-by-case basis, he said.
“Probationary owners have dogs with lesser or no risk of aggression.
“They might be dogs that are constantly found wandering.”
According to the dog control annual report, from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, the Southland District Council received 42 complaints of dog attacks.
The council also received 31 complaints of dog rush or threatening behaviour.
No prosecutions had been made.
CLUTHA DISTRICT COUNCIL
There are 7097 dogs in the Clutha region.
One is classed as dangerous and 49 as menacing.
Thirty-five menacing dogs are urban dogs.
When a dog is found in breach of any provisions of the Clutha District Council dog control bylaw or the Dog Control Act 1996, the dog may be impounded.
Clutha District Council regulatory manager David Campbell said there were no dog attacks in Clutha from May to July this year.
However, dog attacks on livestock were often not reported, he said.
“Sometimes when dogs attack livestock they [farmers] put the dog down themselves. They have the right to do that.”
There were also no unfit dog owners in the Clutha district, Mr Campbell said.
“It is pretty rare for an owner to be deemed as unfit.”
In the Clutha district, an unfit owner was someone who was not providing the basics for the dog, he said.
“It has more to do with animal welfare than dangerous dogs.”
Dog control officers were allowed to enter a private property if they had evidence that there was a dangerous, menacing or unregistered dog on the property, he said.