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Dog laws under scrutiny again

06:00 Mon Jan 23 2012

Local Government Minister Nick Smith is promising dangerous dog laws will be investigated, following a spate of attacks on children.

At least five children have been badly bitten in dog attacks since Christmas, throwing the spotlight again on the country's dog laws.

In a Porirua attack over the weekend it was reported an 18-month-old child had crawled within the dog's chain reach and was bitten.

Also over the weekend a nine-year-old Rotorua girl was bitten while walking a dog with a group and an 11-year-old Waitara girl was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital after being attacked by two dogs.

In an Ashburton attack last week a three-year-old boy was bitten in the throat while eating chocolate.

On Christmas Day 15-month-old bitten in the face by a dog in Edgecumbe in the Bay of Plenty.

Dr Smith promised to kick-start a stalled pledge to investigate laws governing dangerous dogs which was supposed to take place last year, Fairfax NZ News reported.

His office would investigate the incidents and whether there were any issues with dog control legislation in relation to public safety.

But Owen Dance, president of the New Zealand Kennel Club, says much of the responsibility lay with parents.

Such attacks happen once in a while and would continue until more parents properly educated their children about how to behave around dogs.

It was hard to find examples of farmers' dogs biting farmers' children, he said.

"And in nearly 40 years of the kennel club I have never heard of a kennel club member's child being bitten by one of their dogs," he told Radio New Zealand.

Children should be kept physically separate from the dog until the child was old enough to understand how to behave.

Behaviour humans associated with affection, such as eye contact and placing heads close together, was considered aggression by dogs, Mr Dance said.

Do you think dog laws are too lenient in this country? Have your saw in the comments section below.

User comments
I have kept dogs for many years as a musher in Alaska and have a lot of experience with dogs as a ***. Dogs are potentially dangerous with some breeds being more and some being less dangerous. The government has to put an end to breeding and keeping of dangerous breeds such as fighting dogs. A list should be provided naming all affected breeds. The potential danger of certain dog breeds has to be recognized and considered. Dogs are loaded weapons that can go off without warning. I cannot accept that life threatening animals can be kept as pets. I don't want my kids to grow-up in fear of getting injured or killed by dogs. How many more people have to be injured? How many people have to be killed until the government realizes that dogs are potentially dangerous animals and certain breeds are no pets?
Everybody needs to take responsibility. Parents need to teach their children what to do and what not to do around dogs. Dogs are NOT TOYS... I have seen kids and adults do some really dumb stuff around dogs, ie go to pat them through car windows when the dog doesnt know them, tease them with food etc...... Owners need to ensure their dogs are trained properly. My labrador hasnt ever tried to take food from kids though she will plead for it. I can leave food on a plate on the floor and she will not take it unless given the okay. She is brilliant with humans, but as as she hasnt had much socialisation with little children, when she is around them, I keep a very sharp eye on them and her - just in case.....
It is hard to believe,the number of dog attacks,so far this year.Parents should supervise children at all times when around dogs,and teach them not to provoke,the dog.The dog might look quiet and would not hurt a fly,but there is always that moment when things can go horribly wrong.There are certain breeds of dogs that must be banned in NZ,and the quicker its done,the better for everyone.
Parents should be to blame for most of the dog bites as they dont supervise the children when they are around dogs so its not just the dog owners responsability its the parents also i have two german shepherds and have small grand kids visit and even knowing that the dogs would not bit e the grand kids i make sure they ae not left un attended with them not even for one minute.What would the parents say if the kid wandered on the road and got hit by a car.A dogs defence is its teeth and you have to wonder where the parents were when these attacks happened.Dont blame the dogs all the time
educate the people and children as to what is appropriate around dogs . i have owned a dog since i was a teenager and have never had a dog of mine attack anybody. EDUCATE NOT ERADICATE.
Changing the dog laws will not change the situation we have right now. It is not always the fault of the dog as is usually reported, but the people who own them! Children should be supervised around dogs and taught how to behave around them. Children do cruel things to dogs, dogs retaliate and the dog ends up being put down. If the dogs and children were supervised this could be avoided. Parents of small children should never leave them unattended with a dog.
The Kennel Club president is right about the comments made that children's parents need to educate their children. My son is 21 months and we are teaching him how to approach dogs, to check its Ok to approach the dog and what behaviour is not Ok around dogs. Hes only little so still forgets but we remind him to make a fist to offer the dog to sniff first, this he usually always remembers to do and it ensures our son is not seen as a threat.
I am sick of this debate. Its always the dog or the breed that comes into question. Laws should be changed to come down harder on owners. Banning breeds doesn't solve the problem....thats already been proven over and over again. If a dog has teeth it has the potential to bite regardless of what breed it is. Dog attacks happen often, many go unreported by the victim and if its not news worthy meaning its not the typical dangerous pitbull that everyone harps on about then we don't hear about it. On investigating these attacks it all comes down to owners not socialising them or giving the dog the head start it needs to lead a happy life. They let the dog do what ever it likes without setting rules and bounaries. Owners need to be more accountable for how they raise there dogs. Educating the younger generation also helps in prevention. Been done in other countries why not here.......Trust me banning these so called "dangerous breeds" aint gonna solve anything.
I think that banning or changing dog laws against "dangerous" breeds is a waste of time. Any breed of dog can turn. Its not the dogs fault, the fault lies with the people. I have a pitbull staffy x and she is the most well mannered girl you could meet. the aggression comes from how the dog has been bought up and whether the owners have bothered to train it properly. You should never leave a child unsupervised around a dog untill they are old enough to understand how a dog thinks and behaves. As to the child whose dog tried to get the chocolate, although im not saying its ok for them to be bitten, the dogs should have been trained to not take food from anyone unless given. I can leave my food on the ground and my dog knows she is not to touch it, little own grab it herself from anyone. Dont blame the dogs. If you can train your dog you shouldnt have one. Simple. Sure mistakes can happen, but its the owners responsibility to bring them up.
i agree with Owen Dance, it is the owner or parents job to supervise children around dogs. They are an animal remember!! Dangerous dogs are usually created by their owners not born dangerous! We should be more restrictive in who owns dogs! not what breed is owned..