Auckland woman contacts council about roaming dogs, then hers was impounded

An Auckland woman who contacted the council about roaming dogs in her area says she was traumatised when animal management wrongfully came onto her property and seized her dog instead.

Kaylah, who didn't want her surname used, told Newshub the council's animal management officers came onto her property in a "home invasion" and removed her dog, named Girl, due to late registration fees.

Kaylah was unaware her fees were late.

She'd contacted the council about the safety of her tamariki with other roaming dogs in the area.

"They obviously didn't come to fulfil my initial request," Kaylah said.

"I didn't realise at the time that Girl's registration was overdue so instead of the animal management team picking up the two strays that were roaming the streets at the time, which I initially complained about, they decided to take my dog who was confined in her own backyard because my registration fees were overdue."

The dog was taken away for 24 hours before being returned.

The council told Newshub on Tuesday that the dog had been roaming prior to seizure.

Kaylah disputed the claim and provided evidence, then the council did a U-turn and admitted a breach on Thursday.

"I was absolutely disgusted and heartbroken. I was so furious that I didn't know how to express my emotions," Kaylah said.

"I was all over to the place, even more so when I had watched the video and seen how it all happened."

Kaylah shared video of the incident with Newshub which shows the moments leading up to Girl being impounded.

It shows Girl being sprayed by a hose from a neighbouring property before running into the house. She's heard barking for almost an hour, Kaylah believes at the animal control officers, before being hosed.

Minutes later animal control officers show up on the property and are seen talking about how Girl ran inside an open door of the house. They knock and call out if anyone is home several times.

After appearing to spot the camera, officers walk away before three men come back and off-camera appear to entice Girl out of the house.

Girl is heard barking before being taken away by officers.

Proof of the fenced yard.
Proof of the fenced yard. Photo credit: Supplied

Kaylah shared photos of her fenced yard to prove Girl was not roaming. Video of Girl heard barking also supports the claim she remained on the property despite council's initial claim.

"Girl most definitely was not out of my yard though… there is no way of her escaping," Kaylah said, pointing to the photographs. That was before the council's admission.

Following the incident, Kaylah lodged a complaint with Auckland Council and contacted Newshub.

Council's admission

Auckland Council's Animal Management manager Elly Waitoa has since admitted wrongdoing on the officers' part.

"The council has investigated this incident and found that standard protocol was not followed in relation to the entry to the property and the subsequent seizure of the dog," she said.

"We take protocol very seriously and are reviewing all relevant processes to ensure this breach does not occur again. We have made multiple attempts to reach out to the complainant to discuss the matter and apologise."

Kaylah said she hadn't received an apology but said it wouldn't undo the trauma she'd faced anyway.

Kaylah described how she "felt powerless" watching the incident unfold on video.

"I was so emotionally distressed that I contacted my dad, my mum, my sister and my cousin crying and looking for help, support and comfort.

"I wouldn't wish this situation on my worst enemy. It was such a disheartening and traumatising ordeal."

Girl was returned to her family after being impounded.
Girl was returned to her family after being impounded. Photo credit: Supplied

Kaylah said she and her dog remained worried for their safety following the incident so she submitted a formal complaint to the council.

Waitoa originally told Newshub animal management officers responded to a complaint of a roaming dog on March 21.

"Animal management officers followed the dog back to a property, with concerns for the potential welfare of the property occupants," she said.

"The officer called police to assist and seized the dog, which was impounded due to not being registered and also for posing a risk to the public."

When Newshub followed up to ask if council was sure Girl had been roaming, Waitoa on Tuesday said animal management officers sighted two other dogs on the property but they ran away due to lack of containment.  

"The dog that was seized had been roaming prior to seizure," she added.

However, the council on Thursday asked Newshub to "replace" it's original statement regarding this claim.

Police confirmed it received a request to assist with animal management at an address in Ōtara. A unit was sent from the Manukau station and attended about 12:20pm on March 21.

Police didn't have further information.

Kaylah was unaware police had attended and said her neighbours didn't see police either. She added 12:20pm was "well after" the dog was removed that day.

Girl was registered and eventually returned home after the ordeal.

The open door Girl ran into.
The open door Girl ran into. Photo credit: Supplied

Waitoa said the Dog Control Act 1996 states all dogs over the age of three months must be registered annually. She said failure to comply with this requirement may result in a $300 infringement or if convicted a fine up to $3000. The dog may also be impounded.

In this case, Waitoa said the dog was released to the owner on payment of the registration fee.

There are currently 111,567 dogs registered in Auckland, but council expects there to be about 130,000 dogs when taking into account those not registered.

'A massive part' of the family

Kaylah has owned Girl, a mixed-breed dog that looks like a Staffy cross, for about eight years.

"Girl is a massive part of mine and my children's life. She has been with us through thick and thin," she said.

"When we were homeless years ago she comforted and protected us. She has ALWAYS been great with kids and my kids have grown up with her by their side throughout their lives."

Kaylah said her eldest daughter was only a year old when they got Girl.

The family has travelled with her all over New Zealand.