Kiwis want dog owners registered, not just dogs

In the wake of a number of serious dog attacks, a majority of New Zealanders want dog owners, not just their dogs, to be compulsorily registered.

Fifty-nine per cent of people polled back a call for registration of dog owners, supporting a call made by SPCA head Bob Kerridge in the Sunday Star-Times in March after the mauling of Japanese girl Sakurako Uehara in Murupara. The 7-year-old was bitten more than 100 times by four dogs.

Currently, it is a legal requirement for all dogs to be registered but dog owners do not have to be licensed or registered.

Auckland Council has a voluntary scheme where dog owners take a written test showing how much they know about handling and caring for dogs, and have a property inspection. If they pass they get a Responsible Dog Owner Licence and reduction in licensing fees. Wellington City Council has a similar approach.

The SPCA is calling for this type of owner-licensing to be compulsory across New Zealand.

An owner licence will ensure that a person has the knowledge and responsibility to care for and train a dog, said Kerridge.

"The real value of licensing owners is that it will be a forced education of what their responsibilities are as a dog owner. We are aiming it at the owner rather than the dog."

Kerridge said he was pleased to see the poll backing the SPCA stance. The Research NZ poll was of 501 people aged 18 and over.

What do you think? Should dog owners be licensed? Leave a comment, or answer our poll.

Sunday Star Times