Chris Denny from Cook Islands Security is bidding for the job, saying it’s time to get tough on dogs. His firm is purchasing a tranquilliser rifle, but says for now, police will still put down attacking dogs that can’t be stopped by non-lethal means.
Former police inspector Rod Henderson called yesterday for Rarotonga to follow the lead of Mitiaro, an island he says is in the process of eradicating its few remaining dogs. There are an estimated 5000 dogs on Raro, and few are contained on their owner’s properties.
Just this month, police shot four dogs that were attacking guests at the beach by Manuia Resort. The dogs’ owner, who was said to be “farming” them, shot another two.
And two young men were critically injured in separate bike crashes, when they hit dogs that ran onto the road.
There is disagreement about the best way to handle dogs: the SPCA believes shooting them is an absolute last resort, and that the bigger problem is with neglect of dogs. Its shelter manager called yesterday for people to report sick and problem dogs, so they can be cared for.
But Denny is calling for a more aggressive approach, to be led by his security company’s new Canine Management Service.
“If a dog is viciously attacking people and other animals, then it needs to be put down,” he said.
“It is absolutely appalling that once visitors drive or walk out of their secure compounds, they are a target for dogs. I am ready to go with my team just waiting for the final push through government and we are go.”
He argues that the money paid in dog licence fees would easily cover the cost of out-sourcing dog control services.
He added: “Dogs are not the problem – it's their owners. And at this stage police is happy for us to join forces to tackle our dog issues and it will require lots of man hours to get on top of it.”
He has declared a “code red”, saying the dog problems are reaching crisis levels. “This is not a new problem to all us locals so common sense right now is to slow down and everybody must wear a helmet – we must do, until it’s safe again.”
It won't be a quick fix, he said, but the dog problem can be fixed and then kept under control.
But this could be the hardest challenge yet, he says.
Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said the primary concern of the police was to enforce the present legislation.
“That is the applicable law governing dogs and dog ownership at present – so any changes would need to be considered in the scope of that context, including regulations.
“An island-wide ban is not likely to get any traction.”