Palmerston North mayoral candidate Lew Findlay wants dog owners to be treated the same as gun owners and have to be licensed to have one.
"A dog is very much like a gun. It can be used as a weapon.
"People should apply for permission to own a dog, not buy it then register it.
"You can't do that with a gun. You should not be able to do it with a dog."
Cr Findlay made the call at the Palmerston North City Council's planning and policy committee yesterday, during discussions on the council's annual dog report.
Head of environmental protection services Wayne Jameson said his unit was toughening up on dog registrations and, as a result, the number of menacing dogs in the community was likely to come down.
He said about 2 per cent of known dogs in the city had not been re-registered on time.
This week, 104 preferred dog owners who were late paying lost their status and their discounts and would have to reapply.
About 500 other owners would be getting visits and infringement notices, and from February animal control officers would be picking up unregistered dogs and impounding them.
Mr Jameson said of 575 dogs impounded last year, 189 were later destroyed because no-one claimed them and they were not suitable for rehoming.
Nearly half the dogs put down were classified as menacing because of their breed, most of them american pitbull terriers. "There is a trend for people to not register and look after dogs like that. We are making a positive attempt to remove them from Palmerston North."
There were a total of 161 dogs in the city classified as menacing either because of their breed or behaviour.
They did not actually have to bite or attack before the classification could be enforced.
Menacing dogs had to be neutered, and wear a muzzle in public.
During the year, the city's 7602 dogs attracted 4486 complaints from the public, most commonly about barking or roaming.
Mr Jameson said many of the complaints related to the same dog, or same incident.
Barking complaints were often dealt with through owner education.
Roaming dogs were a challenge, as they had often moved on or gone home by the time staff checked them out.
Mr Jameson said staff had been out on foot patrols checking on behaviour in areas where dogs were allowed to run off the leash.
He said the vast majority of owners controlled their dogs well in those areas.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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