Who let the dogs out? Masterton council gets more than 2000 dog callouts

11:31 pm on 27 October 2023
Dog teeth and tongue, generic

File photo of dog. Photo: 123RF

Masterton District Council received more than 2000 dog-related calls over the past year, an increase of almost 30 percent on the previous two years.

The numbers for the 2022/23 reporting year were contained in the annual report on dog policy and practices, adopted by the council at its meeting on 25 October.

The report said there had been 2029 service requests from the council's animal control team during that period, compared with 1569 in 2021/22 and 1546 in 2020/21.


Of the 2029 total, 28 were for reported attacks on humans, 37 for reported attacks on stock or other domestic animals, 860 were for wandering, lost or roaming animals, 341 were barking complaints, 67 were for 'rushing', and 115 for fouling, welfare and general nuisance.

A further 572 calls related to 'administration' and nine were for breach of bylaws.

The report noted complaints about barking had increased.

"Staff attribute some of the complaints due to the increase in housing intensification, more people working from home, and the larger number of dogs that do not get enough exercise or stimulation.

"Barking dog complaints can take a lot of officer time to engage and educate both dog owners and the community."

During the same period, 234 dogs had been impounded, of which 28 were euthanised.

A further nine were rehomed by the Masterton District Council (MDC), with nine given to the SPCA to rehome, and 188 returned to their owners.

"Euthanising dogs is a sad reality for the staff and last year we had to euthanise 28 dogs; this was an increase from the previous year," the report said.

In the 2022 year, 15 dogs had been euthanised, and only three in 2021.

The report noted decreased capacity at the SPCA.

"Nine dogs were also signed over to the SPCA for rehoming, compared with the 23 dogs the previous year. The reduced intake for dogs is likely because of reduced adoptions and SPCA taking in animals from other centres that have been impacted by disasters."

The report comes a few months after Wairarapa pensioner Perry Cameron was bitten in the Masterton Pak'nSave car park, needing weeks of medical treatment.

Wairarapa pensioner Perry Cameron was bitten by a dog in the Masterton Pak'nSave car park.

Wairarapa pensioner Perry Cameron was bitten by a dog in the Masterton Pak'nSave car park. Photo: Sue Teodoro

Cameron spent 10 hours in Masterton Hospital ED after the attack in July. He said last month he expected to be permanently scarred but was pleased to have retained full use of his hand.

"I'm relieved and impressed by the thorough consideration of the officials," he said.

The dog has since been classified as menacing, and the owner fined. The dog had been in a parked car, with the window about halfway down. It lunged at Cameron through the gap, biting his hand.

In total, MDC officers classified 142 dogs as menacing during the 2023 reporting year, a slight increase on 2022 (137) and 2021 (136).

Overall, the number of dogs registered in the district had reduced to 6,200 from 6,234 in 2022 but was up from 6163 in 2021.

One person was disqualified from owning dogs during the year, down from two in 2022.

"People may not be allowed to own a dog for up to five years from the time of disqualification," the report said.

"Any dog owned by a disqualified owner must be re-homed or put down within 14 days."

A total number of 285 infringement notices were issued, up from 194 in 2022 and 184 in 2021.

The report noted the majority were issued for keeping an unregistered dog.

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