Licences needed for menacing dogs under Govt plan


Owners of "high-risk" dogs will need a licence from their local council as part of wide-ranging Government changes being proposed.

Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston made the announcement in Rotorua on Wednesday morning.

The changes will require dogs classified as "menacing or dangerous" to get a 'high-risk dog owner licence'.

"Owners will need to show they are capable of handling a high-risk dog, show they understand their legal obligations and have their property inspected. The dog's temperament will also need to be tested," Ms Upston says.

Those who have a licence will have an exemption to adopt menacing dogs from animal shelters.

The changes will also include stricter penalties for owners of dogs which attack people, and also improve data on dog attacks.

Licences needed for menacing dogs under Govt plan

Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston at the announcement (Newshub.)

Under the proposal, the maximum penalties for dog attacks causing serious injuries will be increased and offences around endangerment or injury would include incidents on private property. The legislation currently only covers public spaces. 

It would also give power to the Local Government Minister to make regulations to put in a regime to regulate dog breeders.

In September, Ms Upston announced the first set of changes in a National Action Plan which included a Best Practice Guide for local councils, a behavioural change campaign and a nationwide programme to neuter menacing dogs.

Ms Upston on Wednesday launched that neutering programme, backed by $850,000 of government money, with Rotorua and Opotiki the first areas to take part in the rollout.

Central and local government will work together to provide discounted neutering for menacing dogs until the end of June next year.

Ms Upston says the programme will mean fewer menacing dogs in the community, thereby lowering the risk of attacks.

The legislation is expected to be introduced in February 2017, with the public able to have their say through the select committee process.

Under the Dog Control Act 1996, local councils can classify dogs as dangerous if:

However, a dog which doesn't meet the "dangerous " definition can be classified as menacing if the local council thinks it could pose a threat to people or other animals based on reported behaviour, or shows similar traits to other dangerous dogs.