Rise in dog attacks prompts plea to keep pets secureDemir D. - April 30, 2022
Animal control staff plead with owners to keep their dogs in. (File Photo)
Palmerston North residents are being reminded not to let the dogs out after a spate of attacks on people.
In the first four months of this year, there have been 17 reports of dogs attacking people.
That was up from seven for the same period last year.
City council team leader for animal management and education Ross McDermott said the number of dog attacks on other animals was slightly down on average at 26 for the four months, but the increase of attacks on people was a worry.
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While 13 of the attacks on adults and high school-aged people were minor, three were moderate and one was classified as serious.
There were nine attacks on people and other animals in the Highbury area, but no neighbourhood in the city was without trouble.
Most dogs involved were not roaming or stray, with most traced to their address without too much difficulty.
McDermott was at a loss to explain exactly what was going on, but in many cases, dogs had escaped from their property when it was left unsecure, and they were not tied up.
He wondered whether people’s work patterns, maybe shifting from working at home to heading back out more often during the day, had disrupted routines for looking out for their dogs.
In some incidents a dog had run out on to the footpath when somebody left a gate open to move a car in or out of the driveway while the dog was on the loose.
Most had attacked someone passing by close to their property.
“It’s typically people walking past on the footpath.”
McDermott was putting out a plea for dog owners to check that their fences and gates were secure so that their dogs could not get out.
As well as attacks on people, the last four months had seen 26 dog attacks on animals. Nine were fatal or serious.
They involved another dog, four cats, one sheep, two rabbits and a chicken.
In three moderate attacks the injured animal needed veterinary care.
McDermott said all complaints had been fully investigated or were subject to ongoing investigation, with some resolved through education or a warning.
He said it always helped if complainants could provide photos or video to help identify the attacking dog, or follow it at a safe distance to see where it lived.
As well as wanting to avoid injury to people and other animals, the consequences for a family pet that could be proved to have attacked someone were quite serious.
Some dogs had been impounded, costing owners $124 plus $19 a day.
Most of the identified problem dogs were later classified as menacing, and three as dangerous, as a way to prevent further attacks.
Classified dogs had to be muzzled and on a leash when out in public.
Some dogs had been put down after serious or fatal attacks, either at the dog owner’s request, or after them giving up their dogs.
The council also had powers to prosecute, and owners could be fined, and in the worst cases, a court order for euthanasia could be sought.
“Dogs don’t always make it out the other end of the process.”
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