Fears neglectful dog owners getting off lightly in Gisborne

2:36 pm on 22 June 2022

The former head of animal control at Gisborne District Council is concerned negligent dog owners aren't being held to account in Tairāwhiti.

Pat Collins was the head of animal control at Gisborne District Council for over 20 years before retiring in 2012

Pat Collins was the head of animal control at Gisborne District Council for over 20 years before retiring in 2012. He's concerned neglectful owners are getting off light in the region. Photo: Gisborne Herald / Liam Clayton

Earlier this month, an annual dog control report presented to the council revealed no owners had been prosecuted or disqualified for the 90 dog attacks that occurred in the region over a one-year period.

Answering questions at the meeting about the lack of accountability, animal control team lead Ross Hannam shifted the focus back to council destroying the animals concerned.

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But former head of department Pat Collins is worried the organisation is turning a blind eye to those who should be held responsible.

"If you own a dog, whatever the dog does, you've caused that because you're supposed to be controlling it," Collins said.

"My main concern is that it will get to the stage where dogs will be doing what they want to do, because with owners, one dog goes, another one comes. They [the owners] are not held accountable."

In Tairāwhiti, 635 dogs were impounded for the year ended June 2021, and 202 were euthanised.

At last week's meeting where those numbers were discussed, the issue of people living in residential addresses being able to own a large number of dogs was also highlighted.

While there was no limit on the number of dogs that could be owned, the council still requires the consent of all neighbours who adjoin that property.

A group of dogs at the Gisborne pound.

Dogs at the Gisborne pound. For the year ended June 2021, 635 dogs ended up there. Photo: Gisborne Herald / Liam Clayton

Collins hoped that was still being enforced as strictly as when he was in charge.

"You had to be a responsible dog owner. If you had any black marks against you, or your dog had been caught a few times, you'd never get a multiple dog licence," he said.

Meanwhile, Gisborne District Council animal control team leader Ross Hannam said the level of compliance with dog owners was the highest it had been in six years. It currently sits at more than 90 percent, up 20 percent from 2016.

"Enforcement has many levels and can start at a warning, all the way to court enforcement, and our team makes a judgement call based on the level of offending," Hannam said.

"We are very active in the enforcement of roaming dogs. Infringement notices are frequently used, we work with owners and regularly enforce our bylaw."

Owning more than one dog in the district still required the consent of adjoining neighbours, Hannam confirmed.

In Tairāwhiti, there are 11,526 registered dogs belonging to 6313 owners.

The 90 dog attacks for the year ended June 2021 was a drop from 120 the previous year.

Restricted breed types include Pit Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Brazilian Fila, Japanese Tosa and Perro de Presa Canario

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