City council sends letter to ‘menacing’ dog owners to muzzle pets inside own homes

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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 protected]
Hornby – [email protected]
Halswell – [email protected]
Harewood – [email protected]
Waimairi – [email protected]
Papanui – [email protected]
Fendalton – [email protected]
Spreydon – [email protected]
Cashmere – [email protected]
Central – [email protected]
Heathcote – [email protected]
Banks Peninsula – [email protected]
Coastal – [email protected]
Burwood – [email protected]
Linwood – [email protected]
Innes – [email protected]

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Follow the National Pet Rescue on Facebook.

California man accused of stealing and burning his mom’s pit bull – read more here.
Man accused of burning his mother's pit bull


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  1. oh for heave’s sake, enough, how about making each owner responsible for their dog’s actions. jail time, etc. muzzle my dog at home, I don’t think so. socialism getting worse. one world order right around the corner.

  2. Ignorant ass “officials”. Hold the owner accountable, not the pup! It’s the human that jacks up the pup EVERY TIME! Educate your ignorant asses!!!!!

  3. This is insanity ! Put tape over your mouths because you might bite someone. REALLY?? It’s good that I don’t live in your “blessed” area because I would’ve packing to leave this insanity. You “people”need a mental health check. This is really sick.

  4. I emailed the committee and got a couple of responses. One was from Vicki buck. Here is what she said.
    Council has just said a huge sorry and published this story on Newsline .. Ive just put it up on my facebook page

    Christchurch City Council is apologising to the owners of dogs classified as menacing for sending them inaccurate information about the rules around when their dogs need to be muzzled.

    “The further legal legal opinion we have received supports the view that dogs classified as menacing do not need to be muzzled when they are inside their owner’s house or contained securely within their owner’s property,’’ says Council Consenting and Compliance General Manager Leonie Rae.

    “This is contrary to the information the Animal Management Team sent out to owners of menacing dogs earlier this month. We’re sorry for any confusion and upset that we have caused.

    “The members of our Animal Management Team are all passionate animal lovers. They were trying to prevent other animals and people from coming to harm by ensuring that the owners of menacing dogs were aware of what their obligations were.

    “They were acting on the basis of a legal interpretation of what it means for a dog to be “at large’’. This week we sought an urgent legal review of that interpretation in response to the feedback we received from the public.

    “The new legal opinion we have received leads us to believe that a court is unlikely to uphold a requirement for dogs classified as menacing to be muzzled inside their own home or property,’’ Mrs Rae says.

    Dogs get classified as menacing either because they are a specific breed or type, or because they have attacked or behaved aggressively.

    Section 33E of the Dog Control Act states 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.’’

    “We will be writing to the dog owners with dangerous or menacing dog classifications to update them. This will give clarity around where and when menacing dogs need to be muzzled,’’ Mrs Rae says.

    Find out about more about the rules and responsibilities of owning a dog classified as menacing.(external link)

    • Yes, it’s already Monday there and the story hit a few hours ago. Will update on it all in the morning. Thanks for being so diligent. 😉


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