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Resource material › Dog Control › Dog Control Amendment Act 2003

Key provisions introduced in the Dog Control Amendment Act 2003

The Dog Control Amendment Act 2003 introduced a number of changes and additions to the Dog Control Act 1996. These include:

  • making it illegal to import any of the following breeds/types of dog (either live or semen, ova, or embryo):
      • American Pit Bull Terrier
      • Dogo Argentino
      • Brazilian Fila
      • Japanese Tosa
      • Perro de Presa Canario.

Other breeds or types of dogs can be added to the list of restricted dogs, but only after an Order in Council is agreed by the Government.
  • establishing a category of ‘menacing dog’. A council may declare a dog to be menacing if it considers that the dog could pose a threat to any person, stock, poultry, domestic animal, or protected wildlife because of:
      • any observed or reported behaviour of the dog
      • any characteristics typically associated with the dog’s breed or type
  • a council must classify a dog as menacing if it has reasonable grounds to believe that a dog belongs wholly or predominately to one or more of the five breeds/types banned from importation into New Zealand.
  • menacing dogs must be muzzled when in public and may be required by the council to be neutered.
  • councils may disqualify someone from owning a dog or declare them to be a probationary owner if they incur more than three infringement offences within two years or are convicted of an offence (not being an infringement offence) under the Dog Control Act, Parts 1 and 2 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, section 26ZZP of the Conservation Act 1987, or section 56I of the National Parks Act 1980.
  • a council may require probationary owners to undertake a dog education programme and/or a dog obedience course approved by the council.
  • people taking dogs out in public will be required to use or carry a leash at all times.
  • dangerous dogs must be leashed and muzzled when in public.
  • owners whose dogs are required by the courts to be destroyed are required to produce to the council within one month a certificate from a vet or dog control officer/ranger that the dog has been destroyed.
  • it is an offence to unlawfully release a dog from a pound and an offence to be in possession of a dog that has been unlawfully released from a pound.
  • the owner of a dog involved in an attack causing serious injury may face a penalty of up to 3 years imprisonment or a fine of up to $20,000.
  • a dog owner must ensure at all times that, when their dog is on their property, it is either (a) under the direct control of a person, or (b) confined in such a manner that it cannot freely leave the property. If this requirement is not met the dog may be seized.

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Powers of councils
  • The powers for dog control officers to seize unregistered dogs, dogs that have attacked or rushed (i.e. dogs in public places that have rushed or startled a person or animal and caused injury, endangerment, damage or death) and dogs not receiving adequate food, water or shelter have been clarified and in some cases strengthened.
  • Dog control officers and rangers can seize a dog on private land where the dog is not constrained or under the control of a person over 16 years, and if the dog has been off the property not under control, i.e. roaming at large.
  • Councils have the power to request information about the name, gender and description of a dog from its owner.
  • Dog rangers can issue infringement notices.

Obligations on councils
  • Councils are to report annually on their dog control policies and practices. The report is to contain certain specified information such as the number of dogs registered, the number of dogs declared dangerous and menacing, and the number of probationary or disqualified owners.
  • Councils are required to revise their dog control polices, applying a strengthened criteria which places greater emphasis on public safety.

  • All dogs first registered on or after 1 July 2006 (except working farm dogs) and all dogs classified as dangerous or menacing since 1 December 2003 are required to be microchipped. Dangerous and menacing dogs classified before 1 July 2006, had to be microchipped within two months of that date. Unregistered dogs released from pounds after 1 July 2006 are required to be microchipped, and registered dogs impounded twice by the territorial authority are also required to be microchipped.
  • Territorial authorities are required to participate in a national dog control database that contains specified records/information. Territorial authorities can be levied to meet the on-going cost of the database.
  • Regulations are in place governing the type of microchip to be used and the procedure for insertion.

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