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Council chasing tail as dog callouts rise

Dog-related callouts are on the rise in Masterton, with an average of eight calls to the animal control team per day.

The Masterton District Council [MDC] team has seen an increase of more than 10 per cent in dog-related service calls since last financial year.

In the year ending 30 June, MDC received a total of 2029 dog-related callouts.

Staff attributed some of those complaints to the increase in housing intensification, more people working from home, and an increase in the number of dogs that do not get enough exercise or stimulation.

A report presented to MDC’s infrastructure and services committee on Wednesday shows an upward trend.

There were 718 dog-related service requests to the animal control team in the three months to 30 September. This compares to 650 for the same period last year and 543 the year before that.

Of the 718 calls during that period this year, 59 were urgent, including dog attacks, and needed attendance within one hour. Last year, there were 48 urgent callouts, and the year before 64.

The other calls this year included 373 for barking or wandering dogs. Last year there were 321 such callouts, and the year before, 298.

The report said that at the end of October there were 510 known unregistered dogs in Masterton district, and 279 properties were visited by officers checking for unregistered dogs during the month.

“The visits resulted in several owners paying their penalty fees and getting their dogs registered, 14 deceased dogs, and 44 owners who could not be located at the recorded address.”

A total of 191 infringements were issued to owners for failing to register their dogs in October and November.

The new numbers were released as MDC has begun reminding dog owners about their responsibilities and providing advice for people encountering roaming dogs.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, a council spokesperson said with warmer weather and school holidays approaching, encounters with unrestrained pets are more likely.

“All dogs over the age of three months must be registered with the council, and dog owners are responsible for having their dogs under control at all times, including when in off-lead areas,” the spokesperson said.

“Care of dogs includes ensuring they are kept secure when owners are not around. Unaccompanied roaming dogs can present a risk to pedestrians and road users.”

While attacks from roaming dogs are rare, anyone coming into contact with an unaccompanied dog should be careful.

MDC environmental services manager Terri Mulligan said roaming dogs should not be approached.

“If people are approached by a dog that makes them feel uneasy, they should stand still, quietly, with their hands by their sides.

“When the dog loses interest, they should move away slowly and quietly.”

If an incident occurs, a good description of the dog can help the council identify it.

With the weather likely to improve, MDC advised dog owners not to leave dogs in cars, even with windows open. This can cause the dog to over-heat or even die.

MDC has resumed after-hours callouts and will collect roaming dogs if they have been secured.

Given the difficulty in locating non-secured dogs, calls resulting from these animals cannot be responded to after hours.

The council’s after-hours number is 06 378 7752.

-NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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