25 Jan 2012

Dog attacks not stopped by new laws

7:59 pm on 25 January 2012

Dog attacks have increased by more than 3000 since new laws were introduced to curb them.

Figures from the Accident Compensation Corporation show nearly 12,000 people sought medical attention for dog bites last year - up from 8677 in 2003.

In 2003, changes to the law around dogs and specific dog breeds was sparked by an horrific attack on Carolina Anderson, aged seven, who was mauled in an Auckland park.

Of the 11,708 people attacked last year, nearly 2000 were children under the age of 10.

Carolina's father, John Anderson, says the legislation did not go far enough and he believes New Zealand should follow the lead of other countries which require aggressive dogs to be muzzled in public places.

A spokesperson for Local Government Minister Nick Smith says Dr Smith will be reviewing the dog control laws in the light of the figures.

But dog behaviourist Shivaun Statham says a change in the laws won't make a difference because once a dog bites a person, that dog can never be trusted again.

She says an education campaign is needed.

And Paul Hutton, who runs the Canine Behaviour Centre in Palmerston North, says the new law has been detrimental because dog-owners were led to believe the Government had solved the issue.

Mr Hutton says most maulings are by family pets that have never before shown aggressive tendencies.