Outcome of District Court hearing regarding dogs
Two dogs believed to be involved in the death of a cat in Hokitika in August this year have been returned to their owner following a District Court hearing in Greymouth on Monday 11 December 2017.
Westland District Council instigated court proceedings against the owner of the two dogs believed to be involved in the cat attack incident recommending that the dogs be euthanised and the owner prosecuted because of the fatality. However, the judge, upon reviewing the identification process used by Council’s former dog control contractors, indicated concerns about the evidence against the dogs. The Council and its legal team assessed it as highly likely that prosecution would fail because of the judge’s concerns, and therefore withdrew charges.
This has meant that the dogs have been released to the owner upon payment of the outstanding registration fees and associated penalties. Westland District Council can, and will, however, impound the dogs again and infringe the owner if the dogs are found wandering. Council also has other options it can adopt under the Dog Control Act 1996 for future transgressions including classifying the owner as prohibited from owning dogs for a period of two years.
Group Manager for Planning, Community and Environment, Jim Ebenhoh, says:
“Council has learnt some good lessons from this process. We now have a better understanding of the level of evidence and the identification process our contractors need to use with eyewitnesses in order to successfully prosecute for dog control breaches.
“We are hopeful that the extended period of separation between the owner and dogs may encourage the owner to take on board the recommendations of the judge regarding the importance of keeping dogs under control.
“Council intends to maintain its vigilance around dog control matters, and would like to also remind all dog owners that the best outcome is preventative rather than punitive.”
The Westland community will have the opportunity to be involved in Council’s dog control bylaw and policy review as part of the Long Term Plan consultation process next year. Members of the public are encouraged to make submissions at that time regarding whether Council should increase the levels of service it provides regarding dog control.
Dated at Hokitika this 14th day of December 2017
For further information, please contact:
Michelle Bunt – Strategy and Communications Advisor 03 756 9082