New Zealand Dog News

Reviewing the dog news in New Zealand with editors comments. Someone needs to keep reviewing how our dogs are doing in society.

May 13, 2006

Council defends degrees of response

Now this is an interesting topic... one that is not really discussed. It's an article how the interpretation of dog pound officer responds to a complaint. It also tells us how the dog pound officers interprets the severity of a situation. It describes the degree of inequality.

How is it that one dog complaint is hounded on and the other isn't? Why do dog pound officers give fines when the dog isn't a threat but leave the dogs who have a disposition to be threatening alone. This process needs to be reviewed in all councils.

Dog owners deserve an open safe format (ie, a Hui would be nice) in which concerns are raised. Why do farmers hold the media's interest when it relates to them, and city dog owners are left wanting their own answers?

Stray dogs and threatening dogs. There is a difference and so too is the degree of response from the Timaru District Council when a member of the public calls.

That's the message from Timaru District Council regulatory services manager Peter Thompson who was responding to an article in yesterday's paper, written by Timaru Herald reporter Michelle Nelson and criticising the council for not acting quickly enough.

Mr Thompson said a dog that presented a clear and present danger to a member of the public, triggered a very different and immediate response, than that of stray dogs.

The reporter wrote of her own experience, where she informed the council that dogs were wandering at large at 6am, in Geraldine.

Under standard council policy, dogs such as strays and which do not represent a threat to anyone are dealt with at a lower level of response. "Where the concerns being expressed relate only to stray dogs, after hours staff will not normally respond because experience has shown that almost invariably when an animal control officer attends, the strays have gone," Mr Thompson said. "

This has particular relevance when, as in this case, the strays are some distance away (Geraldine) from the officer's home (Timaru). Attending the site was likely to take in excess of 45 minutes, involve driving a return trip of some 80kms and overall, including search time, take about two hours for a likely nil result," he said.

The reporter claimed in her article that the dogs were attacking her cats and that she was forced to retreat inside and was "bailed up in my home". However an electronic transcript of the complaint shows she did not report this aspect of her concerns to the council. Hum, you would think that the transcript would?! Once wonders how this transcript was typed up? Where's the tape? However, one reading this might thing that we have just entered the Complaining Society.

"I have confirmed with our after-hours service and with the officer concerned that the complaint related only to stray dogs," Mr Thompson said. "Where a dog is acting in an aggressive manner or where stock or other animals are being attacked, these instances will be addressed as quickly as possible regardless of the time of day or night," Mr Thompson said.

Michelle Nelson:
"I told the council duty operator I would not go outside while the dogs were there. "I was not told the call was being taped but would like to hear it – there is no doubt in my mind I said the dogs were dangerous-breed types and described them as a brindle mastiff and red pit bull-type.
(isn't this sad that she forms a judgement on the danger of the dog by its breed??)

"I said they had chased my cats. I called council animal control officer Mick Hogg, who lives at Temuka and told him I was bailed up in my home by two dangerous-looking dogs. " Oh, the drama !! How is it that Temuka's little community doesn't get together and have a dog day event so that people know other people's dogs... I described both dogs and discussed dangerous breed-types with Mr Hogg."

Yesterday the Herald received five calls from people who had experienced similar problems in reporting stray/threatening dogs to the council. There needs to be a clear process that people feel that their complaints are being addressed in a democratic way. But it's important that the complainer is also held up to account to 'their complaint'. I do not accept that one complaint can be grounds for giving large fines. I'm sure the police would love this form of justice ?!

One woman waited five hours and was speaking to an animal control officer while the dogs attacked sheep next door, she said. UNacceptable!!


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