December 17, 2016 – Following the release of new revisions from New Zealand’s government for the stronger breed-specific legislation the the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has said it is pleased it will no longer be prohibited from re-homing dogs based on the visual assessment of breed.

Instead, dogs classified under the Dog Control Act 1999 as menacing can be re-homed to people with a ‘high-risk dog owner license’. This change will save the lives of thousands of dogs, however the SPCA say there are still areas of concern in the national action plan that need to be addressed.

The SPCA has been campaigning against the strengthened breed-specific legislation included in the government’s national action plan for dogs. The proposed law would have seen animal shelters like as the SPCA banned from re-homing dogs purely based on how they look. This would have led to thousands of healthy dogs being euthanised.

The SPCA said it wanted to thank people who got behind the SPCA’s on-line petition. The SPCA’s petition against breed-specific legislation and for a change in this proposed law had almost 60,000 signatures and widespread support from the New Zealand public.

“We’re really pleased that the Government has made changes in this action plan to allow the SPCA to continue re-homing dogs irrespective of their breed.” says SPCA New Zealand CEO [Acting] Andrea Midgen.

“Breed alone is no indication of aggression, so we believe all dogs should be treated as individuals and not discriminated against based on what they look like. That’s why each dog at the SPCA is treated as an individual and undergoes health and behaviour assessments before they are re-homed. No dog assessed as dangerous would ever be re-homed by the SPCA.”

The SPCA is also fully supportive of the provision in the proposal to regulate dog breeders. the SPCA hope that if this is implemented, there will be fewer ‘backyard breeders’ and a reduction in the unwanted dog population that our SPCA Centres have to respond to.

“This is a success for us and it’s a great result for the animals. But there is still more work to be done.

Over the coming months the SPCA will continue to work with the Department of Internal Affairs and Minister Louise Upston and will address areas of concern and areas for improvement with this proposal in the Select Committee process.”

More specifically, the SPCA would like to see: Further clarification on how breed will be assessed and consistency of temperament testing across the country, the scope of the Dog Control Act review to apply to all dogs rather than just classified dogs, this would allow for de-sexing initiatives to be extended to all dogs, rather than just those deemed as ‘high-risk’, owner-licensing extended to all dogs owners (the SPCA has said it believes owners, rather than dogs, should be licensed), removal of the existing breed-specific legislation provisions from the Dog Control Act 1996, as this has been shown not to reduce dog bites, strengthening of data collection on dog bites in communities by way of a creating a central database.

Photo: SPCA NZ

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