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Owning a Pet

New Zealander's love their pets, with around 600,000 dogs and 1.2 million cats populating the country. 
If you decide you would like to get a pet there are some easy rules to follow. 
Your pet must not annoy of injure other people and the owners must take good care of them. You are responsible to get your pets vaccinated against major diseases. The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) can take anyone to court who they suspect is neglecting to care for their animals. 
Dogs must be registered with their local council. Dogs now also require microchipping. 
If you have problems with stray dogs you can phone the local council dog pound and they will alert one of their staff on the road. Dog control officers can seize dogs that have attacked, and provide a process for classifying dogs as 'menacing'. There are also increased fines, and wider options for dealing with probationary dog owners. 
If you take your dog for a walk you are expected to use or have a leash with you at all times.

The requirement to microchip all dogs registered in New Zealand for the first time (except working farm dogs, which are exempt as long as they are kept solely or principally for herding or driving stock). affects mainly puppies and imported dogs. Microchipping provides a simple, lifelong way of identifying dogs and linking them to their owner, making dog control easier and more effective. 
Microchipping started on 1 July 2006 for: 
Dogs first registered (mainly puppies) since that date, except working farm dogs. 
Dogs classified as dangerous or menacing, including dogs classified since 1 December 2003. 
Unregistered dogs that are impounded. 
Registered dogs that are impounded twice. 

National Dog Database 
The database holds information on all registered dogs including registration details, microchip number (if applicable), breed and year of birth. Contact details of owners are also recorded.  
Local councils supply and maintain information held on the database, established by the Department of Internal Affairs. The information is not available to the general public.

Menacing and dangerous dogs 
There are two categories of menacing and dangerous. Councils have powers to declare a dog menacing or dangerous in certain circumstances, including if the dog is considered a threat to any person, animal or protected wildlife.  
Councils must also classify a dog as menacing if there are reasonable grounds to believe it belongs wholly or predominantly to one or more of the four restricted breeds/types:  
American Pit Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Brazilian Fila and Japanese Tosa. It is illegal to import any of these restricted breeds/types. 
Menacing dogs must be muzzled when in public and councils may require them to be neutered. 
Stricter requirements apply to dangerous dogs including being muzzled and leashed in public, neutered and kept securely fenced on the owner's property without blocking access to any dwelling.

The penalty for owning a dog involved in an attack causing serious injury is to not be able to own a dog for up to 5 years, up to three years' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $20,000.

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