Council does a U-turn on muzzling dangerous dog breeds in their own homes

Christchurch City Council is apologising to the owners of dogs classified as menacing for sending them inaccurate information about the rules around when their dogs need to be muzzled.

Dogs deemed menacing by breed or actions will have to be muzzled at all times, unless they’re in a cage or vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS

The council last week said, for all dogs classified as "menacing", unless the animal is in a cage or car it must now be muzzled - including when it's inside the home.

Dogs get classified as menacing either because they are a specific breed or type, or because they have attacked or behaved aggressively.

However, Council Consenting and Compliance General Manager Leonie Rae has now clarified the issue, saying that information was not true.

People who want to own a dangerous or menacing dog will need to be licensed, according to a new plan. Source: 1 NEWS

"The further legal opinion we have received supports the view that dogs classified as menacing do not need to be muzzled when they are inside their owner's house or contained securely within their owner's property," Ms Rae said.

"This is contrary to the information the Animal Management Team sent out to owners of menacing dogs earlier this month.

"We're sorry for any confusion and upset that we have caused.

"The members of our Animal Management Team are all passionate animal lovers.

"They were trying to prevent other animals and people from coming to harm by ensuring that the owners of menacing dogs were aware of what their obligations were.

"They were acting on the basis of a legal interpretation of what it means for a dog to be "at large’".

"This week we sought an urgent legal review of that interpretation in response to the feedback we received from the public.

"The new legal opinion we have received leads us to believe that a court is unlikely to uphold a requirement for dogs classified as menacing to be muzzled inside their own home or property."

Section 33E of the Dog Control Act states the owner of a menacing dog "must not allow the dog to be 'at large', or in a public place, or in a private way without being muzzled".

"We will be writing to the dog owners with dangerous or menacing dog classifications to update them," Ms Rae said.

"This will give clarity around where and when menacing dogs need to be muzzled."