Last updated 16:35, September 23 2016
MORNING REPORT/Radio New Zealand
Minister says outcome of law change is to ultimately eradicate dangerous dog breeds from New Zealand.
The SPCA has accused the Government of planning to send thousands of innocent dogs to their death, based on "nothing more than their visual appearance".
The organisation says it will fight "with full force" the Government's plans to prevent the adoption of dangerous breeds of dogs, in an attempt to halt a rise in attacks.
Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston has admitted the dangerous breeds would be wiped out in New Zealand if the law is passed, but says the Government is right to target the dogs and not "nana's poodle".
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As part of a national action plan unveiled on Thursday, Upston said animal shelters would be banned from adopting out "high-risk dogs" to new owners.
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The laws will apply to dogs designated as a risk by councils, as well as specific breeds already subject to strict controls like the American pit bull terrier, the Brazilian Fila, the Dogo Argentino, the Japanese Tosa, and the Perro de Presa Canario.
The SPCA says thousands of innocent dogs will die based on nothing more than their appearance, if a crackdown on "dangerous breeds" goes ahead.
SPCA New Zealand chief executive Andrea Midgen said the ban on rehoming certain breeds would lead to the deaths of thousands of dogs "guilty of nothing else than their visual appearance".
"They're basically asking us to kill healthy dogs, and that's against everything that we stand for."
Midgen said the SPCA accepted there were some dogs that should not be in the community, but it did not adopt any animals that it thought would pose a risk to a potential owner.
Worldwide studies showed breed-specific legislation did not work, and countries such as Italy, the Netherlands and parts of Germany had been repealing breed bans.
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Dogs needed to be judged based on their temperament and behaviour, not their breed, Midgen said.
"The way the dog's brought up, how it's socialised, how it's trained, has just as much impact on how that dog's going to turn out - if not more - than anything in its genes.
"We have pitbull-type dogs that we adopt, they're the biggest sooks that you've ever come across - they're like lapdogs, wouldn't harm a fly, but they're all dogs, and all dogs can bite."
It was also difficult to know the breed of a dog based simply on looking at it.
The SPCA has launched a petition against the change, which Midgen said thousands of people had already signed.
GOVT: FOCUS ON HIGH-RISK DOGS
Upston defended the Government's plans, saying some councils already had the restrictions in place and it was targeting breeds which posed the greatest threat.
"By focussing on the high-risk dogs as opposed to nana's poodle, that is focusing where the risk and harm is."
Asked whether neutering all restricted breeds and forbidding their adoption would lead to their extinction in New Zealand, Upston said: "I guess eventually that would be the end position."
Best practice guidelines for identifying dangerous breeds would be developed to ensure consistency across councils, with greater use of DNA testing an option.
Upston acknowledged there was "patchy" data on which dogs caused attacks, and said the Government was planning to improve the information it collected.
However, most of the new requirements would not be a big deal for responsible owners, she said.
Under the action plan, all high-risk dogs would have to be neutered and kept in a fenced-in area at their home, with "dog-free access" provided to at least one entrance for visitors.
Their owners would also have to display signs at the front of their property alerting people of the risk, and ensure their dogs wore collars showing they were dangerous.