Owner responsibility

Owning a dog is a massive responsibility. As a dog owner you are legally required to care for your pet. You have to make sure it gets enough food, water, shelter and exercise. Dog owners are also required to ensure their dog receives proper care and attention. You need to keep your dog under control at all times and have to ensure it isn’t causing problems for anyone else.

You need to:

  • Register your dog
  • make sure your dog is not a nuisance, such as through persistent, loud barking or howling
  • make sure your dog doesn’t injure, endanger, intimidate or distress any person or animal
  • take reasonable steps to stop your dog from damaging someone else’s property.

How to be a good dog owner

There are five freedoms for animals that are internationally recognised, following these will help you to be a good dog owner.

Ensure your dog has:

- proper and sufficient food and water

- adequate shelter

- the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour

- protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, any significant injury or disease

- and is handled in a way that minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress

More information on your responsibilities (external link)

Legal obligations

There’s a range of responsibilities which come with dog ownership. We’ve outlined key legal obligations here for you. It’s important to read and understand the information as it applies to you and your dog.

Control of dogs

Sections 52, 53 and 54A, Dog Control Act 1996

The owner of a dog must keep the dog under control at all times and, when in a public place with the dog, must use or carry a leash.

A dog will be treated as not being under control:

  • if it is found at large on any land or premises, other than a public place or a private way, without the consent (express or implied) of the occupier or person in charge of the land or the premises; or
  • if it is found at large in any public place or in any private way in contravention of any regulations or bylaw.

You will commit an offence and be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $3,000 if you fail to comply with this provision.

Obligations of dog owner generally

Section 54, Dog Control Act 1996

The owner of a dog must:

  • ensure that the dog receives proper care and attention and is supplied with proper and sufficient food, water, and shelter; and
  • ensure that the dog receives adequate exercise.

You will commit an offence and be liable on conviction to imprisonment for up to 3 months or to a fine not exceeding $5,000 if you fail to comply with this provision.

Obligations of dog owner on owner’s property

Section 52A, Dog Control Act 1996

The owner of a dog must ensure, when the dog is on land or premises occupied by the owner:

  • that the dog is under the direct control of a person; or
  • that the dog is confined within the land or premises in such a way that it cannot freely leave the land or premises.

You will commit an offence and be liable on conviction to a fine of $3,000 if you fail to comply with this provision. In addition, a dog control officer or dog ranger may seize and impound the dog.

Registration with Southland District Council

All dogs over the age of 3 months ordinarily kept in the Southland district must be registered with Southland District Council. It is an offence to keep a dog older than 3 months which is unregistered. On conviction, a court may impose a fine of up to $3,000.

When registering a dog, it is an offence to make any written statement knowing it to be false. On conviction, a court may impose a fine of up to $3,000.

Replacement discs and collars may be obtained from Southland District Council if the current one has been lost or stolen.

Any dog not wearing a collar with a current registration label or disc attached will, until the contrary is proved, be treated as unregistered. If it is on land or premises other than its owner’s, or in any public place, the dog may be seized and impounded.

Changes to the circumstances relating to your dog can be made by completing a ‘Change your dog details’ form on our website www.southlanddc.govt.nz.

If ownership changes, both the previous owner and the new owner must, within 14 days, give written notice to Southland District Council or other council, along with the residential address of the new owner and the address at which the dog will be kept. It is an offence not to comply with this requirement. On conviction, a court may impose a fine of up to $500.

If the owner’s address is changed within the district, the owner must, within 14 days, give written notice to Southland District Council.

If any dog is transferred to and kept in the district of another territorial authority for 1 month or more, the owner must, within 6 weeks of the transfer, give written notice to both territorial authorities, setting out the address where the dog will be kept. It is an offence not to comply with this requirement. On conviction, a court may impose a fine of up to $500.

If the fee for the registration of a dog is paid and that dog dies, a refund will be made on request as follows:

  • where a dog dies before the commencement of the year, the full fee will be refunded:
  • where the dog dies during the year, 1/12th of the annual fee for each complete month remaining in the registration year after the date of application for a refund will be refunded.

 

Control of dogs