SHARE
Supportive . . . Three mayoral candidates, all dog owners, Nigel Bowen, left, Kari Mohoao and Gordon Handy spoke in support of Janie Shuker's call. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

A call for killer dogs to be put down is being supported by three of Timaru’s mayoral candidates.

Janie Shuker’s 13-year-old cat Trudy was mauled by two roaming dogs, believed to be Rhodesian ridgebacks, on the porch of her cottage at the Margaret Wilson Home in late May.

Her cat sustained a ripped leg muscle but the consequences would have been worse had Miss Shuker not come on the scene.

“They had Trudy pinned; I screamed.”

The dogs ran off. That same morning they killed a cat in the neighbourhood and injured a small dog before they were chased away.

Miss Shuker said her cat had been traumatised and she was still affected by the incident.

“My vet told me, 30 seconds more and they would have killed her.”

She wanted Timaru’s bylaws changed to have dogs that killed pets, such as cats and dogs, in unprovoked incidents put down.

“I’m passionate about this. I will stand up to fight for this.

“Those dogs who attacked my cat and killed the other cat were returned to their owners only days afterwards.”

Traumatised . . . Janie Shuker and her cat Trudy are still recovering from the trauma of the dog attack. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

At a Grey Power meeting last week, Miss Shuker asked mayoral candidates Nigel Bowen, Gordon Handy and Kari (“AJ”) Mohoao, all of whom were dog owners, what their views were on on the issue.

All three supported her, as did many at the meeting, judging by the general response.

“It’s not different to a child being attacked,” Mr Bowen said.

Mayoral candidate Janie Annear, who was overseas at the time of the meeting, thought each case had to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

“For example, does the dog have a history of aggression and was it provoked?

“However any dog that attacks farmers’ livestock should immediately be destroyed.”

The fifth mayoral candidate, 22-year-old truck driver Shane Wilson, said it would depend on the circumstances.

“It’s worth giving the dog a chance with a behavioural test. The circumstances could be something that had got the dog going.”

Miss Shuker said she was “thrilled to bits” that three candidates supported her call.

“It’s the best response I could have got and has given me the feeling that I want to fight on this.”

The council policy was that a court order was needed if a dog was to be put down.

“It’s the best response I could have got and has given me the feeling that I want to fight on this.”

Under the Timaru bylaw, a dog that attacked had to be classified as dangerous, leashed and muzzled in public and securely fenced at its home.

Miss Shuker alleged staff at Margaret Wilson Home had seen one of the attacking dogs after the incident on the street and it was not muzzled.

“I had to pay $250 in vet bills, other folk had a $1000 cat killed. The whole thing has been horrible.”

Miss Shuker said she understood how a woman who had her dog snatched from her arms and killed by a dog on the Smithfield walkway last year felt.

In September last year, Siobhan Butterworth’s 6-year-old German spitz, Rayne, was killed by a 10-month-old Staffordshire which was later returned to its owners.

Under the Dog Control Act 1996, local authorities have the power to seize and euthanise an attacking dog and fine the owner up to $3000, as well as imposing costs for any damage caused by the attack. Timaru district has similar powers under its local bylaws.

After last year’s attack on Rayne, Timaru District Council’s group manager of environmental services Tracy Tierney said:

“Our view is that immediately going into the legal proceedings doesn’t offer good outcomes for long-term public safety with dogs.

“We approach things in a more collaborative way with the owners, to try and reach a long-term solution that better controls the situation.”