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 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.