Whakatāne District Council warns against wandering stock and dogs

8:30 pm on 11 June 2020

A farmer whose sheep were ravaged by a dog last year is again having stock hassled by dogs during the night.

Ewes are being sold with new season lambs fetching up to $170 at sales.

(File image). Photo: RNZ / Jemma Brackebush

Whakatāne District Council community regulation manager Graeme Lewer said the famer lost $5000 worth of sheep this year and had now found his heifers boxed in a corner and sweating due to wandering dogs.

The two dogs responsible for last year's attack were shot and their owner had to pay the farmer reparation of $5000.

Lewer said at this time of year, reports of dogs worrying stock increased as farmers prepared for the lambing season.

He asked dog owners to ensure their dogs were contained, saying they could face court action otherwise.

"Often people think if their dog is at their back door when they go to sleep and is there in the morning when they wake up, it's been there all night," he said.

"However, often it's been up the road, grabbed a few of its mates and has been worrying stock during the night.

"The only way to ensure your dog is home and where it should be is to chain it up or put it in an enclosure like a kennel and run. Be a responsible dog owner."

Lewer said when the council informed owners their dog had been worrying or attacking stock, they were often surprised and shocked, believing it was not capable of such behaviour.

Lewer said although dogs had been domesticated, those instincts were still there.

Wandering dogs and stock have also caused serious injuries and deaths on the district's roads.

Lewer said that in his 35 years on the job, he had seen six or seven deaths and countless crashes related to wandering stock, most recently last month.

Edgecumbe woman Elizabeth Edwards was killed when her car hit a horse on Te Teko Road late at night.

Lewer said Te Teko Road was one of the worst in the district for wandering stock along with the areas around Waimana, Rūātoki, Minginui and Ruatāhuna.

The council has installed signs in these areas to warn visitors of the danger.

Lewer asked that owners of stock, particularly horses - which he said caused the most issues - to ensure fences were in good condition and that gates were closed. People living in an area where people would routinely leave gates open were advised to install a padlock.

Owners of wandering stock and dogs can face court action as well as having their animals euthanised.

If a dog is on private property and actively worrying stock or acting threateningly, the property owner is within their rights to shoot and kill the dog.

The dog's owner can also be held liable for any costs or loses incurred.

Many car crashes are caused by people swerving to miss dogs, however, if a dog is hit by a car its owner is liable to repair the car.

Lewer said if people saw stock on the road, they should call animal control immediately.

The council runs a 24-hour service which can be reached on 306-0500. Once phoned, they aim to have the problem solved within an hour.

The council can also provide humane dog traps, which have a high success rate trapping dogs that habitually wander onto private property at night.

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