Kiwis want dog owners registered, not just dogs
In the wake of a number of serious dog attacks, a majority of New Zealanders want dog owners, not just their dogs, to be compulsorily registered.
Fifty-nine per cent of people polled back a call for registration of dog owners, supporting a call made by SPCA head Bob Kerridge in the Sunday Star-Times in March after the mauling of Japanese girl Sakurako Uehara in Murupara. The 7-year-old was bitten more than 100 times by four dogs.
Currently, it is a legal requirement for all dogs to be registered but dog owners do not have to be licensed or registered.
Auckland Council has a voluntary scheme where dog owners take a written test showing how much they know about handling and caring for dogs, and have a property inspection. If they pass they get a Responsible Dog Owner Licence and reduction in licensing fees. Wellington City Council has a similar approach.
The SPCA is calling for this type of owner-licensing to be compulsory across New Zealand.
An owner licence will ensure that a person has the knowledge and responsibility to care for and train a dog, said Kerridge.
"The real value of licensing owners is that it will be a forced education of what their responsibilities are as a dog owner. We are aiming it at the owner rather than the dog."