Dargaville locals are becoming increasingly agitated, and some fearful, as a result of the number of roaming dogs on residential streets and are expressing their frustration through social media.
Comments and photographs have consistently highlighted repetitive problems, with dogs jumping fences to enter properties, chasing other animals — some resulting in an attack and injury — and chasing people walking or running.
“They came in our garden and set on my Maltese,” said Susan Sexton.
“Just chased them out of my garden. Keep your animals safe. They killed a bird in a rabbit hutch, and I lost a rabbit back in March,” said Anna-Marie Bernadette-Russon.
Another resident said: “They chased me this morning as I was out running. Three of them came out of a property.”
“Our dog had a run-in when they came through the back and were causing a scene with him about 1.30am.
“I chased them only to have them return. There is also the time two tried to have a go at our cat just after they upset a lady walking past our house,” said another.
Dr Joanna Bruin, a veterinarian at Dargaville Veterinary Centre, said there was an influx of injury cases a few months ago, but only a small number in recent weeks.
“I believe that any injury sustained by a roaming or aggressive dog is unacceptable — as an estimate, we seem to get about one a month or two. Injuries range from minor to very severe, especially with regard to cats where one bite or shake can cause severe injuries, such as broken bones, paralysis, herniation, haemorrhage and death.”
“Most are also very traumatic for the owner, and there have been multiple cases in the past two years where elderly have been walking their dogs when they have been attacked,” she said.
A 24-hour animal control service is available by phoning 0800 105 890 for reporting roaming dogs, and patrols have been sighted monitoring some areas, aiming to reduce the number of nuisance dogs and possible harm to the public.
Residents are encouraged to report nuisance or problem dogs to enable a case history to be built by the animal control team, and if animal control officers are unable to catch a wary dog, a humane trap may be arranged free of charge.
Under the Dog Control Act 1996, dogs responsible for attacks on people or other animals can be seized, and the dog owner charged and fined. In addition, the owner is also liable for any damages caused by the dog, which in a worst-case scenario may be destroyed.
The Kaipara District Council offers education and advice to all dog owners, encouraging responsible ownership on their website kaipara.govt.nz.