National action plan to reduce dog attacks

  • Louise Upston
Local Government

Today Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government, announced a new national action plan to reduce risk and prevent harm from dog attacks.

Under this action plan high risk dogs and their owners, rather than all dogs and owners, will be subject to stricter controls under changes to dog control laws. This will compliment a renewed focus on education, as well as new work with local government on best practice guidelines for councils.

“I know first-hand the joy that dogs bring to your life and that there are thousands of loved family pets in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the statistics clearly show that dog bite incidents are on the rise and children are overrepresented as victims of dog attacks” Ms Upston says. 

“Today I am launching the first part of the new national action plan for dog control. The plan consists of 3 parts:

• Law changes and neutering programme.

• Best practice guide.

• A public education campaign.

“Today I am launching a programme over the summer months aimed at reducing the risk of attacks. This initiative involves Government funding of $0.85 million ($850,000) to subsidise the neutering of high risk dogs. Neutering has been proven to reduce aggression in dogs which is important as we move into summer months and the school holidays.”

Law changes will require owners of dangerous and menacing dogs to: 

• Neuter all high-risk dogs. 

• Keep high-risk dogs in a fenced in area at home that allows visitors dog-free access to at least one house entrance. 

• Display signs at the front of their property alerting people of high-risk dogs.

• Ensure dangerous or menacing dogs wear collars identifying them as high-risk.

• Animal shelters will also be prevented from adopting out high-risk dogs to new owners.

Ms Upston is considering including additional restrictions on the owners of high-risk dogs and improving the quality of information about dog attacks.

Ms Upston intends to introduce legislation in February 2017. More information will be forthcoming as work on these legislative changes progresses. This action plan is being developed in partnership with the local government sector and other relevant stakeholders