The Waitaki District Council is putting the onus on owners to take responsibility for their dogs after an increase in complaints made to dog control officers.
In a report to the council’s heritage, environment and regulatory committee last week, Waitaki District Council enforcement officer Tristan Hope reported a 27% increase in dogs impounded (118 compared to 93) from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
In 2018-19, the number of reported wandering dogs rose from 126 to 179, and the number of dog attacks rose from 29 to 36.
“It is our role to manage that, but people have their own responsibilities,” Mr Hope said.
“What we need people to do is be more considerate of other people – if that means you need to put your dog on a lead in an area where it needs to be on a lead, that reduces the likelihood of something going wrong.”
Mr Hope said it was hard to say why numbers had increased, but it could be due to people being more proactive in calling the council.
“It is really difficult to say what is driving the increase.
“We could be dealing with just a handful of owners, but dealing with them on a regular basis.
“It is very easy for a couple of irresponsible dog owners to shift those figures upwards.”
Mr Hope said it was pleasing only three of the 118 dogs that were impounded were euthanised.
Of the 118, 102 were returned to their owners and 13 were re-homed.
“What can happen is you can pick up a dog and the owner might not be known – the dog is not micro-chipped or registered.
“If no-one comes forward for the dog and, for one reason or another, we have not been able to adopt it, then [it has to be euthanised].”
Overall, dog owners in the district were good to deal with, but there were a few who had a poor attitude to compliance, he said.
“It is not uncommon for us to be dealing with the same dog owners for the wrong reasons.”
In 2018-19, two owners were disqualified from being able to own dogs.
Mr Hope said it was better for dog owners to be cautious in order to prevent problems, rather than deal with them after the fact.
Any dog owners who have concerns about their pets should call the council for advice.
“We have very experienced animal control officers.
“If anyone is concerned about dog behaviour we will be able to help them, and if we can’t we will be able to put them in touch with someone who can.”
Work on the council’s new dog pound was also progressing well, and expected to be finished by the end of the month, Mr Hope said.
“It is going to be much more fit-for-purpose than the old one.
“It is future proofing, to a degree, what we can do – it is a warmer building, more modern.”