Health threat changes its form
The National Government sensibly is de-fanging the dog issue by having its Internal Affairs Department sponsor advertisements seeking to encourage owners of attack dogs, or as the advertisement describes them “menacing by breed,” dogs castrated.
Local government authorities meanwhile are being encouraged to advertise to “proud owners” of all animals their obligation to get their dogs registered.
Why the gentle persuasion, instead of tough pressure on the owners of the animals?
There is strong evidence to demonstrate that dog owners are single-issue voters on the lines of love me, love my dog.
The dog threat is a highly visible one.
The late local body politician Brett Ambler saw his region becoming overrun with threatening dogs and he noted publicly that their owners clearly delighted in the stand-over status that the animal bestowed on them.
The urban dog problem has accelerated with the success over many years of the anti-hydatids programme.
While hydatids remained a threat the parasite dissuaded urban dog ownership simply because the zoonotic parasite easily jumped from animals to humans, notably young children at the crawling stage.
Early steps to contain the dog problem centred on pavement fouling and local authorities enjoyed success in engendering a community-led scooping solution.
The arrival of the “menace by breed” animals then took the problem to another level.
All political parties are anxious to avoid what they regard as the no-win issue and hope that various kinds of dissuasion instead of legislation will staunch the developing public menace.
The New Zealand Veterinary Association points out that “dog aggression is responsible for a significant public health problem.”
There are five dog breeds which automatically receive menacing dog status: Brazilian Fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Perro de Presa Canario and (pictured) American Pit Bull Terrier.
There is a ban on importing these dogs, but no ban on owning or breeding them.
In 2002 the Ministry of Health declared New Zealand “provisionally” free of hydatids.
| From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk || Thursday 6 July 2017 |||