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Auckland Council

Responses about animal management practise with regards to “Chip”

Ngā Whakautu mō ngā tikanga tiaki kararehe me tōna hāngai ki a “Chip”

Animal management practise with regards to the puppy "Chip"

On 24 June 2016, we received a phone call about an abandoned dog on Pollen Street in Grey Lynn. The dog, nicknamed "Chip" by the person who found him, was picked up by our animal management officers and taken to our Henderson Animal Shelter.

Chip was identified by our highly experienced shelter staff as a chocolate Shar Pei Pit Bull Terrier cross, approximately eight weeks old. While he was in our care (between 24 June and 5 July), Chip received regular exercise and was weighed and monitored daily.

On 5 July, Chip was seen and assessed by one of our contracted veterinarians. At that time he was considered to be extremely malnourished and was struggling to maintain weight, despite the best care and attention. After this assessment the decision was made to euthanise him.

Since that time we have received several requests for information about Chip. We feel it necessary to be transparent about our animal management procedures and practise and publicly release this information on our website.

How we manage menacing dogs

Menacing dogs are defined under the Dog Control Act (the Act). This legislation informs our procedures and practice.

  • Under the Act, a council can classify a dog as menacing if it considers that it poses a threat to any person, stock, poultry, domestic animal, or protected wildlife because of any observed or reported behaviour of the dog; or
  • any characteristics typically associated with the dog's breed or type.

Councils must classify a dog as menacing if it belongs wholly or predominately to one of the five breeds or type of dog banned from importation into New Zealand.

Breed

  • Dogo Argentino
  • Brazilian Fila
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario.

Type

  • American Pit Bull Terrier.

The act allows us to determine our approach to adopting/rehoming menacing dogs. Like many other councils, we won't rehome dogs that are identified as menacing after they come into our care. This has been our approach since 2010. However, considering our close relationship with the SPCA, we will remain open to further information or evidence that could inform our practice in the future.

Our statistics on dog bite prosecutions indicate that menacing dogs are far more likely to be involved in a serious attack (i.e. the ones we prosecute) than the general dog population in Auckland. Because of this, we cannot in good conscience adopt them back out into the community.

Management sign-off is required in cases of euthanasia to ensure our procedures have been correctly followed.

The issuing of death certificates for dogs that are euthanised in our shelters doesn't form part of our standard operating procedures. As such, a death certificate does not exist.

For further information on our animal management procedures and practice, please see information in the Dogs and other animals section of our website.

Assessments and medical care for Chip

No tests were performed to diagnose illness relating to Chip's condition. The independent vet who assessed him on 5 July agreed with our shelter staff that he was unwell and clearly malnourished as his head was disproportionate to the rest of his body.

Animal Management are not invoiced for each individual dog but on vet time and the specific service provided. The vets do not keep notes on individual dogs. Notes made by shelter staff and volunteers relating to the daily care of Chip are included in Documentation on Chip (download PDF below).

No temperament or behavioural assessment was conducted for Chip. This is conducted prior to the adoption process.

DNA testing and predominance assessments

While DNA testing provides information on the genetic make-up of an individual dog, the level of accuracy it provides isn't yet sufficient to be reliable.

The visual breed assessment we use is also used by many shelters and organisations to determine predominance, and this was also the case with Chip. At approximately eight weeks old, Chip was assessed by two experienced and highly trained shelter managers.

On a scale of 0 – 36 Chip was assessed as 23 points in terms of an American Pitt Bull Terrier type. This excludes weight and height measurement.

At such a young age, and given the exclusion of these two measures, our staff assessed Chip as predominantly of American Pitt Bull Terrier type. Please see Documentation on Chip for the assessment details.

Henderson Animal Shelter Security

A security guard was employed at the shelter after staff began to receive on-going abuse including physical threats of violence and even death threats.

This behaviour has been very upsetting for our staff, which we find unacceptable and will not tolerate.

On-site security guards were employed to support and protect our staff as they continued their day-to-day work with lost and found animals.