By ER Insider. See also: EveningReport.nz’s Editorial on this issue. AN INSIDER’S OPINION: Political anxiety, tribalism, stale and stagnant ‘part solutions’ have been brought to the fore as Auckland Council attempts to save face over this menacing and dangerous dog crisis. Auckland politicians have for years ignored menacing dogs that roam, bark, charge and intimidate innocent residents and family pets throughout south Auckland. The cynical would say ‘when politicians get cosy they lose touch’. The reality is: it’s easy to ignore unregistered dogs in Otara and Takanini when you enjoy the privilege and view from your 27th floor office at 135 Albert Street in Auckland City. POLITICAL ANXIETY: [caption id="attachment_9920" align="alignleft" width="300"] Darnell Minarapa-Brown, 7-years old.[/caption]When violence against a child compels communities to demand action, and that call sounds from all over Auckland City – it becomes harder for Auckland’s politicians to ignore the plight of 7-year old Darnell Minarapa-Brown who spent six hours in surgery at Kidz First Hospital because a dangerous dog ripped his face apart. In the real world, south Auckland’s people want real action. For a moment it seemed the politicians had listened. There was a glimmer of hope after south Auckland Councillor Callum Penrose announced a high-powered group of politicians would front the media with their solution. But by the time Thursday’s highly publicised photo-opportunity concluded, hope was lost. People in the communities soon realised, Auckland Council’s call for an amnesty, on the owners of unregistered dog owners, was a cop-out and more a solution for political anxiety than for those who live in this city’s urban communities. Fronting the photo-op was Auckland’s Mayor, Len Brown, and Councillor Penrose. They boldly raised how Auckland Council will initiate an amnesty so the owners of Auckland’s unregistered dogs will be able to come forward, pay their fees without fear, or fine, or prosecution. Was this it? Was this all they had in their ‘fix-it’ box of tricks? Sadly, it appears so. Brown and Penrose’s amnesty exposes them both to failure, and for Penrose, failure to deliver for the community he is supposed to represent is an anathema as he considers campaigning for his job at this year’s Auckland Council elections. The people of Manurewa, Takanini, and Papakura demand hard and real solutions to this crisis. They are not stupid and this amnesty will fail to make south Auckland’s streets safer. It will also fail to inspire voters at this year’s local government elections. The amnesty ignores the inconvenient truth. Auckland Council has wide powers under the Dog Control Act to tackle menacing dogs and prosecute dog owners. Auckland, like any council, has the ability to classify dangerous dogs. It has the ability to enforce its bylaw, and it has the ability to keep communities safe. Therein lies the problem, Auckland Council has the power but it has failed to use it. Why not? Because nine times out of ten the aggressive behaviour of roaming dogs, that threaten the safety of people and domestic animals in south Auckland, isn’t a hot enough topic for distracted councillors. Defining the American Pit Bull in the Dog Control Act as proposed by Penrose and others is a useless gesture. Most of the dogs who roam suburban streets are not purebred creatures. Many are mutts of unknown parentage, born of chained bitches on unfenced properties. Few, if any, of the dogs that bite children in south Auckland are registered, let alone subject to dog obedience classes. Auckland Council’s credibility is undermined by its unwillingness to:
- resource its animal management functions
- go door to door to assess and impound menacing dogs.