Whangarei dog owners are getting hot under the collar about the way they are treated by dog control.Is this happening around the country??
Their actions culminated in a Whangarei District Council meeting last week, where about 50 dog owners wore collars in protest.
The dog owners are led by German visitor Heinz-Juergen Scheld, who says he was so distressed by his treatment, he encouraged other owners to come forward with their concerns.
Mr Scheld's dog, 'Sunny', slipped its collar in March in Riverside and chased some sheep, hurting one.Sunny was impounded over the weekend and the Schelds were not allowed to visit it in the pound.
On getting his dog back the following Monday, Mr Scheld says it was completely changed - suffering bruising, kennel cough and a frightened attitude."He was nearly dead," Mr Scheld says. "He was completely transformed, he couldn't walk and was stiff in the hip."
The Schelds faced fines totalling $700, an impounding fee of $170 and a vet bill of $240. I think that the Schelds should give the vet bill to the dog 'control' office.
Mr Scheld says he advertised for other dog owners who had also felt aggrieved, and got more than 50 responses. And remember that most people don't say much, so 50 responses is probably only a 1/3 of the aggrieved people.
"We were amazed with the numbers of phone calls and statements," he says.
Owners accuse dog control of being heavy-handed, impounding their dogs without reason and putting dogs down without notice.
In response to dog owners' concerns and a recent spate of dog attacks, the district council has agreed to set up a group to look at dog control processes and guidelines.
Well that's a good response, and I'd love to know the results. Can someone let me know?
Mr Thompson says Environment Northland has to strike a balance between the Dog Control Act 1996, dog owners' wants and complaints about dogs from members of the public.
And I can understand that this is a very difficult balancing act, especially in this climate of non-tolerance, in this climate of complaining, in this climate of fear and irrational fear.
Mr Thompson says all dogs are treated to a high standard and each case is assessed on its merits.
Well, my case wasn't assessed on its merit because if it did, the dog control office would have seen that they made a grave error (and not just on the fine!) but our circumstance. (how can you beat a dog having put a guy in prison!... and having your dog on the front page of The Press on a Saturday. )
The Schelds could have gone to court for their dog's actions but were given infringement notices instead.
One of their $200 fines was doubled in an administration error (hello !!! mine too, but they decided to re-issue the fine and NOT cancel it! ) and has since been cancelled, he says.
Mr Thompson says he and his staff have been abused, threatened and bullied by members of the public for doing their job.Threats include someone recently pulling a knife on a staff member and staff vehicles being kicked and damaged. That's what you get when society treats its members like criminals. You get distrust.
"We have got to treat each other as human beings," Mr Thompson says.
Can you PLEASE tell YOUR staff that!