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SPCA no longer banned from rehoming ‘classified’ dogs after changes to national action plan

 23/11/2016

muffin 3 MC headerThe second tranche of proposals as part of the national action plan for dogs in New Zealand has been announced this morning, and the SPCA is pleased it will no longer be prohibited from re-homing dogs based on the visual assessment of breed.

Instead, dogs classified under the Dog Control Act 1999 as menacing can be rehomed to people with a ‘high-risk dog owner license’. This change will save the lives of thousands of dogs, however there are still areas of concern in the national action plan that need to be addressed.

The SPCA has been campaigning against the strengthened breed-specific legislation included in the Government’s national action plan for dogs. The proposed law would have seen animal shelters like as the SPCA banned from rehoming dogs purely based on how they look. This would have led to thousands of healthy dogs being euthanised.

The SPCA’s petition against breed-specific legislation and for a change in this proposed law gained almost 60,000 signatures and widespread support from the New Zealand public.

“We’re really pleased that the Government has made changes in this action plan to allow the SPCA to continue rehoming dogs irrespective of their breed.” says SPCA New Zealand CEO (Acting) Andrea Midgen.

“Breed alone is no indication of aggression, so we believe all dogs should be treated as individuals and not discriminated against based on what they look like. That’s why each dog at the SPCA is treated as an individual and undergoes health and behavior assessments before they are re-homed. No dog assessed as dangerous would ever be re-homed by the SPCA.”

The SPCA is also fully supportive of the provision in the proposal to regulate dog breeders. We hope that if this is implemented, there will be fewer ‘backyard breeders’ and a reduction in the unwanted dog population that our SPCA Centres have to respond to.

“This is a success for us and it’s a great result for the animals. But there is still more work to be done. Over the coming months the SPCA will continue to work with the Department of Internal Affairs and Minister Upston and will address areas of concern and areas for improvement with this proposal in the Select Committee process.”

More specifically, the SPCA would like to see:

- Further clarification on how breed will be assessed and consistency of temperament testing across the country.
- The scope of the Dog Control Act review to apply to all dogs rather than just classified dogs. This would allow for desexing initiatives to be extended to all dogs, rather than just those deemed as ‘high-risk’.
- Owner licensing extended to all dogs owners. We believe owners, rather than dogs, should be licensed.
- Removal of the existing breed-specific legislation provisions from the Dog Control Act 1996, as this has been shown not to reduce dog bites.
- Strengthen data collection on dog bites in our communities by creating a central repository. This will allow us to fully understand the extent of this complex societal issue and to respond accordingly.