SPCA bites back at 'high-risk' dog restrictions

Three puppies the SPCA says it wouldn't be able to rehome under the new plan (SPCA / Facebook)
Three puppies the SPCA says it wouldn't be able to rehome under the new plan (SPCA / Facebook)

The SPCA is not rolling over when it comes to the Government's potential high-risk dog control plan.

According to the proposed plan, owners of "high-risk" dogs would need to:

It's that last stipulation that particularly bites for the SPCA.

Restricted dogs would be what the Government and councils currently consider dangerous or menacing canines.

Several breeds are banned from being imported to New Zealand - the American Pit Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Brazilian Fila, and Japanese Tosa - and dogs that belong "wholly or predominately" to those breeds are also classified as menacing.

This includes mutts that look like they could be part pit bull, which is what's getting the SPCA down.

To encourage people to see 'Beyond the Breed', the SPCA has been sharing the stories of some of the dogs they've rehomed.

One of them was Maddie, a blind puppy rescued alongside her eight littermates at just three weeks old.

"[People would] come over for a cuddle and ask 'What breed is she?'. 'A brown one', is how we'd answer," the SPCA wrote on Facebook.

"You're brave and confident and intelligent and kissy and energetic and you have an amazing nose - I guess you have to when you can't see!"

Despite her rough start to life, the rescue group says Maddie is one of the lucky ones.

"Lucky because we got to you in time. And lucky because the Government wants to ban us from re-homing dogs just like you. They can't see you're more than your breed either."

Maddie is only one of the many mixed-breed dogs the SPCA rehomes, and chief executive Andrea Midgen told Newshub it can be hard to judge how many dogs would be affected because of how hard it is to judge what is a "pit bull-type".

"There's no scientific way to decide that," she said.

The SPCA has started a petition urging the Government to reconsider the proposed plan, saying the new rules would be judging a dog simply on its looks, without looking at its temperament.

"Their life will literally be determined by the shape of their face, or the size of their nose, or the colour of their eyes," the SPCA wrote.

"Not by how much they love their family, or playing with their friends at the beach, or how they would do anything for a chin scratch."


But it is understandable how the Government came to that conclusion - even the SPCA used to have a policy against adopting out pit bulls until last year.

However Ms Midgen told Newshub there's evidence worldwide that breed-specific legislation doesn't work, and the rescue group swapped out to a robust screening process instead.

"We make sure they pass certain tests - for any dog breed - before we adopt it, so there isn't a problem," she said.

Instead of focusing on the breed rather than deed, there's a need for education.

"We need to teach people who aren't dog owners, how to approach and read a dog," Ms Midgen says.

"You wouldn't go up to a lion and go, 'oh it's cute' and pat it."

The petition has already gathered more than 50,000 signatures in just over two weeks and Ms Midgen says the response is amazing.

"It's a pretty good effort for just two weeks!"

It's hoped the petition will reach more than 100,000 signatures.

The legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament in February 2017.