Postie's solution: big exercise area

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 08:00 08/12/2012

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An Ashhurst postie says she has a solution to help prevent dog attacks in Manawatu.

Donna Mercer has set up a dog park called TOSCAZ in the Pohangina Valley, which provides a private space for dogs to run around.

In response to the recent spate of dog attacks in the wider Manawatu region, Mrs Mercer contacted the Manawatu Standard saying her park was "somewhere to let off some dog steam".

"It has been created to give owners a sense of safety while exercising their dogs," she said.

"I can't stop dogs from attacking, but what I can offer is an area where, like humans, pent up aggression, depressions and anxiety could be released in a safe environment without the fear of either your dog attacking someone or another dog."

She has three pitbull crosses herself and said the four hectare park, which is a 30-minute drive from Palmerston North, on Pohangina East Rd, provides them with a worry-free exercise space.

"Pent-up aggression from all breeds could simply be run off at an unleashed and unmuzzled area and dogs would reap many health and psychological benefits."

But Massey University veterinary ethology Professor Kevin Stafford, a specialist in dog behaviour, said exercising dogs would not stop attacks.

"It's not one simple reason. The problem with dog attacks is most of them that are significant are by big dogs that can do serious injury, but dogs attack for all sorts of reasons," he said.

They may be trying to protect their territory, be trained to attack or following the pack mentality of other dogs, Prof Stafford said.

Preventing attacks falls back on dog owners to responsibly care for their pets, he said.

"An attack, to a very great extent, is the reflection of an owner being irresponsible and incapable of managing their dog.

"Most of it comes back to poor rearing, poor control and having big dogs that people can't manage."

Prof Stafford said how people nurtured their pets played a part in preventing attacks and people should discourage dogs from being aggressive.

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- Manawatu Standard

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