Dog rangers target owners on safety
Palmerston North dog rangers are planning a clampdown to make sure the owners of menacing dogs are keeping them under control.
There are 161 dogs classified as menacing in the city, out of a total population of 7471 registered dogs.
The majority of them, 105, are American pit bull terriers who are deemed menacing at birth because of their breed.
Four Dogo Argentino are also captured by the definition.
Another 52 dogs, including rottweilers, Staffordshire bull terriers and even labrador retrievers have been classified as menacing because of their behaviour.
City council head of environmental protection services Wayne Jameson said the council's four animal control officers would be policing the rules about menacing dogs more strictly.
"It's a safety thing. And the most important thing is to keep your dog under control."
Menacing dogs are not allowed in a public place without being muzzled, and have to be de-sexed.
Mr Jameson said officers would be issuing multiple infringement notices for breaches of the rules, so a menacing dog caught roaming without a muzzle would attract two fines.
"That quickly gets expensive."
Veterinarian Malcolm Anderson said it was time a stricter line was taken with menacing dogs.
He and a colleague had both been bitten by dogs at their clinic in the last six months, and had adopted a firm line with customers, asking them to muzzle their dogs.
He said people usually protested that their dog was good and would not bite.
But in a stressful situation, often confronted by other animals in the waiting room, the safest option was to assume most dogs could bite.
"I know some lovely pit bulls, and I know there are other breeds that will bite.
"People invariably say it's about how they are brought up, not about the breed.
"But breeds have an inherent personality, and if you start with something good, you have more chance of making it better."
He said it was unusual to see muzzled dogs in public, despite the rules.
Mr Anderson said it was becoming more difficult to tell, for sure, what was a pit bull and what was not.
People tried to register them as something else, or as some kind of cross-breed, to avoid the extra rules that came with owning a pit bull, and pit bull genes had been passed on to the wider dog population when people had not had them de-sexed.
He said there was no simple dna test available to be sure.
"I think we have created a problem in New Zealand with these dogs."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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