Dog law focuses on improving dog control and increasing the public safety around dogs. At the same time, the right and ability of people to enjoy owning dogs is protected.

While no law can stop all dog attacks, the law encourages responsible dog ownership and provides councils with more dog control enforcement powers and tools.

The key dog control tools are registration of all dogs over three months of age, microchipping all newly registered and nuisance dogs, and the National Dog Database. Together they help councils to enforce owner responsibilities, keep track of problem dogs and enable an owner and their lost or stolen dog to be reunited.

The law emphasises that owners are responsible for controlling their dogs. This includes using or carrying a leash when taking a dog out in public.

Registration

The Dog Control Act 1996 requires all dogs over 3 months old to be registered with their local council every year by 1 July. Registration fees are set by councils to take into account the cost of providing dog control services in their area and the balance between dog owners bearing the costs of dog control and the benefits to ratepayers of having safe and well controlled dogs in their community.

Every council must keep a record of all dogs registered. All councils provide information on the dog and its owner along with its microchip number (if it has one) to the National Dog Database (NDD). The NDD enables lost and stolen animals to be reunited with owners and keeps track of dogs deemed to be menacing and dangerous. All local authorities have a dog policy. For a copy of your districts policy and any enquires relating to dog registrations contact your local council. For dog control issues such as roaming dogs, dog attacks etc, contact your local dog control officer.

Microchipping

Microchipping involves injecting a small ‘chip’ under your pet’s skin to give them a permanent identification. The chip is detected and read by a microchip scanner. Each animal has its own identification number that is stored on a readily accessible database – The New Zealand Companion Animal Register. Visit www.animalregister.co.nz to learn more. A lost animal can be quickly returned to its owner if it is microchipped as the information required to find the owner is quickly obtained once the animal is scanned.

All dogs registered in New Zealand for the first time (except working farm dogs, which are exempt) are required to be microchipped using an appropriate microchip, correctly inserted. Microchipping was introduced in July 2006 and provides a simple life-long way of identifying dogs and linking them to their owner, making dog control easier and more effective.

Microchipping is required for;

  • Dogs first registered since July 2006, except farm dogs used for working stock
  • Dogs classified as dangerous or menacing, including dogs classified since 1 December 2003
  • Unregistered dogs that are impounded
  • Registered dogs that are impounded twice
  • National Dog Database

The NDD holds information on all registered dogs including registration details, microchip number (if applicable), breed and year of birth. Contact details of owners are also recorded.

Local councils supply and maintain the information held on the database which is managed by the Department of Internal Affairs. The information contained in the database is not available to the general public.

For more information on Dog Control Laws, visit www.dia.govt.nz and search for dog control.