26 Jan 2015

Dog attack ethnicity comment 'offensive'

12:59 pm on 26 January 2015

The Race Relations Commissioner has described comments by the SPCA suggesting a link between dog attacks and an owner's ethnicity as "incredibly offensive."

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy. Photo: HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Association's Auckland executive director Bob Kerridge said ethnicity was a factor in the 314 dog attacks in South Auckland between 2009 and last year. In Auckland itself there were 77 attacks in the same period.

Dame Susan Devoy called Mr Kerridge's claims "unhelpful, wrong and incredibly offensive to a lot of people".

Mr Kerridge told Morning Report today he stood by his comments that ethnicity is plays a role.

The Race Relations Commissioner said some people were not good at caring for their animals but their race was not to blame.

"This is not specifically about ethnics, it is just a contributing factor to the problem of dog control," he said.

Labour MP for Mangere, Su'a William Sio, said Mr Kerridge's comments were distressing and stereotyping, and not helpful in finding a solution.

However he said dangerous dogs were a problem in South Auckland, and certain groups in the community owned and bred these dogs specifically for dog fights.

'No evidence'

The Veterinary Association president said there was no evidence to support Mr Kerridge's comments.

Steve Merchant said problems tended to arise when owners bought a breed they did not understand. That happened everywhere, not just South Auckland.

"We agree with the SPCA that in many cases it's not the dog that we feel is the problem."

Mr Merchant said the way a dog was treated by its owner could force the animal into anti-social and dangerous behaviour.

"Owning a dog is a big commitment. It's not inexpensive and you need a property that's suitable for the dog that you've taken on board.

Mr Merchant said dog ownership was not something everyone was cut out for, and people had to be aware of the responsibility required when owning a dog.

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