A Welfare Code for Dog Owners

20 May 1998

The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee’s Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare of Dogs has been released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Peg Loague, national president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RNZSPCA) says her society will be promoting the code because it provides a lot of important information many dog owners may be unaware of such as the importance of correct training and discipline. Dogs are second only to cats in the number of animals abandoned, with discipline problems being one of the main reasons why.

"People are usually full of enthusiasm when the dog is a cute pup but six months down the track, they’re not so keen. A number of dogs are abandoned because they develop behavioural problems, which usually goes back to the owners. The SPCA would prefer people forfeit their dogs rather than keep them when they are no longer being cared for," she says.

With today’s growing concerns on how dogs are treated, the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) reassessed and modified once acceptable dog specific practices according to new knowledge and changing attitudes. AWAC was established by the Minister of Agriculture eight years ago to facilitate the development of animal welfare policy and practice in New Zealand and provide a balanced and independent national forum for discussion on animal welfare.

Good dog welfare depends upon owners and handlers being competent. As well as providing the basic necessities of life for their dog, such as food, water and shelter, a reasonable quality of life should be provided. In simple terms this means social contact and exercise.

The code covers issues of dog injuries, breeding, euthanasia, muzzling, debarking, sporting dogs and dog fighting. There is also a section on dog health, diseases and parasites, which covers internal parasites, roundworm treatment, tapeworms, fleas, flies, mites and ticks - some of which affect humans as well as dogs.

The code covers the legal role of inspectors who have power under the Animals Protection Act 1960 to enter land or premises and dwellings to inspect an animal if there is reasonable grounds to believe harm is being inflicted on the animal. An inspector can seize and take possession of an animal where it is believed an offence has taken place. The code states that ignorance is no excuse for inappropriate dog handling and management, as expert advice is readily available.

For further information contact: Peg Loague, president RNZSPCA Tel: 07 378 7630
For a copy of the code contact: Kate Horrey, AWAC Secretary, Tel: 04 474 4296



Last Updated: 08 September 2010

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