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New Plymouth Council focuses on unregistered dogs

New Plymouth Council focuses on unregistered dogs

The number of animal attacks and wandering dogs in New Plymouth District has risen sharply in the last two years – and the Council is proposing a solution.

This week the district’s four community boards are considering a recommendation that two additional Animal Control Officers be employed for a two-year term so that the Council can be more proactive in reducing the number of unregistered dogs in the community.

A greater focus is already going on unregistered dogs, with owners warned that if they do not register their dogs, they risk having the dogs removed to the dog pound.

Customer and Regulatory Services Manager Mary-Anne Priest says the experience of Hastings District Council (HDC) shows that when greater effort goes into having dogs registered, the number of animal attacks in the community drops.

“In the last three years the number of dog registrations in our district has been dropping – we estimate that eight per cent of the dogs currently aren’t registered,” she says.

“In 2012 there were 226 animal attacks in the district – up 59 per cent on the 142 in 2010. In that same period the number of wandering dogs rose 64 per cent, from 871 to 1,430.

“This week we are sending out letters to owners of previously registered dogs to warn them that if they do not get their dogs registered, we may remove their dogs.

“The report being considered by the community boards this week is about increasing the number of Animal Control Officers so that we can be more proactive about getting dogs registered and encouraging responsible ownership.”

The report also proposes increasing the penalty for late registration from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of the registration fee. The expected increase in revenue from impounding fees, infringements and more registrations would offset the cost of the additional Animal Control Officers, with no funding coming from rates.

The recommendations of the four community boards will be considered by the Policy Committee on 9 April.

The approach taken by HDC was considered best-practice by the Government’s Productivity Commission.

In 2010 HDC employed two additional Animal Control Officers, increased impounding fees – especially for recidivist dog owners – and took an uncompromising approach on dog registration.

As a result, there are fewer uncontrolled dogs and fewer animal attacks in Hastings District.

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