The Dog Control Act 1996 Explained
Dogs are one of the most common domestic pets in New Zealand. Dogs provide companionship, are used to assist people with disabilities and assist law enforcement apprehending people. A dog is a very special animal, and rightfully so, there is a specific Act, the Dog Control Act 1996, (“the Act”) which is in place to empower local authorities to promote responsible dog ownership and the welfare of dogs.
The major change that is found within the Act, which was not evident in the repealed Dog Control and Hydatids Act 1982, is that there was no reference to the care, feeding or exercise of dogs. Section 5 of the Act lists the obligations of dog owners which are:
Further details and obligations can be found at section 52-60 of the Act.
Dogs are required to be registered on the dog register, which is held at the local authority. Registration fees vary between local authorities. If you fail to register your dog, at section 42 of the Act, it is found to be an offense which could amount to a fine of up to $3,000.
Section 25 of the Act explains that a local authority will disqualify a person from being an owner of a dog if that person commits three or more unrelated infringement offences within a 24 month period, or is convicted of an offence under this Act or other Acts such as the Animal Welfare Act 1999, the Conservation Act 1987 or the National Parks Act 1980. However, if the local authority is satisfied that the circumstances of the offence are not justified by disqualification, the local authority can classify the person as a probationary owner instead. A probationary owner, at council’s direction, will undertake dog education programs and/or dog obedience courses. Disqualification can last up to five years.
As this is just a brief overview of the Act, it is recommended reading the Act in its entirety or contacting your local authority to provide further information if required.