SPCA New Zealand

Breaking the Chain - Government announces public consultation on tethering of dogs

01 February 2023

We're delighted to hear today that public consultation has opened on some proposed regulations to help thousands of dogs currently spending their lives on chains. Thank you, New Zealand. Your voices helped advocate for chained dogs and has resulted in this huge step forward. We're closer than ever to breaking the chain.

Breaking the Chain - Government announces public consultation on tethering of dogs

SPCA has been concerned about the prolonged tethering and confinement of dogs for some time, and has worked hard behind the scenes to make change. Since July 2021, SPCA has been publicly raising our voice on the issue of prolonged tethering and confinement of dogs around New Zealand – and asking our supporters to join us.

Currently, the law makes it very difficult for SPCA to intervene where a dog is chained or confined unless that dog has physical wounds, is visibly suffering from lack of food, or has no access to shelter or water. The current law is not good enough for New Zealand dogs – and we’re not alone in wanting change.

More than 20,000 people added their voice to our Break the Chain campaign last year, downloading a letter from our campaign website to send to Minister Whaitiri, Associate Minister of Agriculture (Animal Welfare).This call to action amplified the years’ worth of efforts from other organisations such as Chained Dogs Awareness NZ.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have today posted the public consultation to their website, which will remain open until 15 March 2023. This consultation includes proposed regulations to address tethering of dogs (which involves tying up a dog to a stationary object for extended periods), but does not include confinement/caging - which MPI has indicated will be examined this year. SPCA will continue to advocate for dogs kept confined to small spaces for prolonged periods.

Your feedback on the proposed regulations, their likely impacts, and any other issues will inform their final wording, once they are written into law. MPI is proposing a number of options for regulations around owners tethering their dogs, which are:

  1. Prohibiting prolonged tethering that is likely to cause distress to a dog.
  2. Requiring that tethered dogs get one hour off tether each day.
  3. Prohibiting tethering to a fixed stationary point.
  4. Prohibiting the tethering of certain types of dogs.
  5. Prohibiting the tethering of dogs displaying certain physical signs of distress.
  6. Requirements on how tethering can happen.

MPI are asking which of these regulations, or combination of these regulations, would address the issue of prolonged tethering.

SPCA will be responding and providing feedback on this very soon, and will be asking the public to assist by raising their voice on this once more. To assist you, we will also be putting together information on our view of the options, so if you’re not sure what to submit yet - watch this space. New Zealanders with an interest in improving the lives of chained dogs in New Zealand are advised to keep an eye on SPCA’s website or social media for updates on this in the near future.

Read our previous article on the work done to date on this issue, which includes submitting on the Chained Dog Awareness petition to Parliament to ban the life chaining of dogs.

SPCA, alongside other organisations fighting for this change, have continued work behind the scenes for years to keep this conversation alive and get the outcomes these dogs so desperately need. Today’s news shows what can be achieved when we raise our voices together.

Every animal deserves a life free from suffering, and we will continue to work tirelessly to make this a reality for these dogs. We hope that you will join us in this important cause and that together, we can make a difference for dogs in our community.

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