A hoo-ha over Huha

A hoo-ha over Huha

Caroline Press-Mackenzie with two rescued labradors. Photo Rachel Moore

A responsible dog owner’s certification course that halves the annual dog registration fee is so popular that courses are oversubscribed.

The courses were rolled out in late 2018 by the Hutt and Wellington city animal services in various locations across the city. They were oversubscribed within days. Dog owner Neil Fenemore had registered but missed out. “I was pretty disappointed. Hopefully, they will run some more classes and I can get onto one of those.”

The owner-only, pen and paper courses were developed for those who were unable to afford the additional training to become a certified dog owner under the Wellington City Council’s dog policy.

The two-hour course concentrates on making sure the dog owner knows the rules, regulations, fencing requirements and understands the council guidelines around barking and antisocial behaviour. If they achieve 100% in their test and have an adequately fenced property, the annual dog registration drops from $172.00 to $61.50.

“We developed the course to train the owner rather than the dog,” council spokesperson Victoria Barton-Chappel said. “Traditional dog training courses didn’t necessarily mean the owner understood the rules for owning a dog in Wellington. This way the owners understand their responsibility even if they don’t have the best control of their dog.” So far 133 training certificates have been issued and the feedback from the dog community has been positive.

Huha is a registered charity who takes unwanted dogs from the two councils as well as individuals. Their aim is twofold; either help the owner becomes a responsible owner or rehouse the dog into a loving family that can take care of them.

Huha spokesperson Caroline Press-Mackenzie said the course was good in principle but “if the council are allowing people to have unsexed dogs then the course doesn’t work.”

Each week Huha receives about 1000 calls from people about re-homing their dogs. Each day they can accept up to 60 dogs from the animal services or individuals.

McKenzie said she would prefer the council talked about de-sexing dogs. There was an” epidemic” of unwanted and poorly looked after dogs in the Wellington region. “People get a puppy and decide to breed from it, they don’t get round to training the dog and then it has puppies and then those puppies have puppies. It’s a tragedy.”

The council would do better to help people de-sex their dogs and intervene before the problem gets too big, to ease the burden of being a dog owner in the first place.”

She would prefer to see councils promoting the need for de-sexed dogs to stop the current epidemic of unwanted dogs and then start to concentrate on courses for responsible dog owners.

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