Christchurch is a city found in Canturbury, New Zealand, and dog owners are enraged after a letter was sent to pet owners stating that dogs that are classified as “menacing” must be muzzled inside of their owners’ homes. Yes, you read that correctly; the Christchurch City Council sent the letter reminding dog owners of their legal obligations and to avoid “legal repercussions.”
According to the NewZealandNews, the letter followed after a recent increase in dog bites and attacks. Christchurch City Council states they have the legal authority granted through the 1996 Dog Control Act to ensure regulations are being followed.
“A dog is classified as menacing either by breed (set by legislation) or if they have attacked or shown aggressive tendencies. Section 33E sets out the obligations of a dog owner whose dog is classified as menacing. The owner of a menacing dog must not allow the dog to be at large, or in a public place, or in a private way, without being muzzled.”
The Council has interpreted the legislation clarifying “at large” to mean when the dog is not tethered, unchained or unconstrained even if it’s in the owner’s home or on his property – regardless if the property is fenced. The only exceptions would be when the dog is properly constrained inside of a cage or a vehicle, but must be prevented from biting.
The letter was sent to 159 owners of dogs classified as “menacing” by breed. The owner of Christchurch Bull Dog Rescue, Abbey van der Plas, says the council has no authority to enter people’s homes to check on dogs muzzled. She also claims this is in direct violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
” A dog’s natural behavior is to clean its self, is to drink water when it needs to. A dog’s nose and muzzle are its arms and legs, and if I tied your arms and legs behind your back and told you to live a functioning life, you would have some questions for me,” Abbey wrote on the rescue’s Facebook page. “It’s not just the pit bulls they are saying have to be muzzled. It’s not just a pit bull issue; it’s breeder relevant. This could be anybody’s dog that’s forced to wear a muzzle in its own home 24/7.”
Breeds included in the muzzling legislation include the Brazilian Fila, American Pit Bull, Dogo Argentino, Peirro de Presa Canario and the Japanese Tosa.
Most people do not believe the muzzle rule will reduce the number of dog attacks, since it is more often the owner to blame for problem dogs, and these are the people who wouldn’t muzzle their dogs anyway.
For residents of Christchurch, contacts are listed:
“BE THE VOICE FOR OUR DOGS – Below are the email addresses of every Councillor from every ward of the Christchurch City Council. These are the people we elect to stand for us. They represent the people of Christchurch. I urge you to contact your local representative and let them know how you feel about the Christchurch City Animal Managements policy regarding menacing dogs.
Riccarton – email@example.com
Hornby – firstname.lastname@example.org
Halswell – email@example.com
Harewood – firstname.lastname@example.org
Waimairi – email@example.com
Papanui – firstname.lastname@example.org
Fendalton – email@example.com
Spreydon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Cashmere – email@example.com
Central – firstname.lastname@example.org
Heathcote – email@example.com
Banks Peninsula – firstname.lastname@example.org
Coastal – email@example.com
Burwood – firstname.lastname@example.org
Linwood – email@example.com
Innes – firstname.lastname@example.org
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California man accused of stealing and burning his mom’s pit bull – read more here.