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Impound Process

Impound Process | How do dogs end up in the pound? | Outcome for Impounded Dogs | What happens when a dog is impounded? | What happens to unclaimed dogs? | Temperament testing | Are there some dogs that we will not rehome? | Euthanasia

Tauranga City Council Impound Process

Impound process 

  • If your dog is registered and isn’t causing nuisance by roaming, barking or acts of aggression your dog will not end up in the pound.
  • If a registered dog has been found roaming and it hasn’t been in the pound in the last two years we return the dog home if the owner is present and if the dog can be secured. 
  • Every dog we impound is treated exactly the same in terms of trying to reunite the dog with its owner. There is not one set of rules for one breed and another set of rules for another breed. 
  • Where the rules differ is when it comes time for Council to consider rehoming a dog which has not been claimed by its owner.

How do dogs end up in the pound? 

Over 90% of the nearly 1000 dogs which are impounded each year are dogs which have been found roaming by members of the public who have secured the dog and called Council to pick them up so we can reunite them with their owners. 
The remaining dogs are either found roaming or seized by Animal Control Officers because they have been offending and remain unregistered or have attacked a person or another animal. In the majority of cases the owner has received a warning that their dog will be impounded if it continues to offend. 

Outcome for Impounded Dogs- July 2014 to June 2015

Returned Home (no fees) 20.2%
Released from Pound to Owner 51.4%
Adopted 10.4%
Total Dogs Released 82%
Euthanised 18%

Note: 414 of the 988 dogs impounded last year were unregistered.  

What happens when a dog is impounded? 

Tauranga has a modern pound with large well lit individual pens. The pound is designed to minimise contact between dogs to reduce injury and spread of disease. 
The Dog Control Act 1996 sets minimum standards around what we must do to locate an owner. If we can’t contact the owner by phone we must write to the last known address of the owner. We send these letters by fast post so we ensure they get to the owner as quickly as possible. The owner has 7 days from the letter to make contact with Council and pay any fees to release the dog. This system relies on owners keeping Council updated with their most recent contact details. 
If the dog is a registered dog our practice in Tauranga is to hold the dog for a further 7 days before making a decision on the dog’s future. This is not legislatively required. 
Often dogs have lost their collar by the time they are impounded so having your dog implanted with a functioning microchip which has been notified to Council is an enormous help and provides proof of ownership.

What happens to unclaimed dogs?

If we haven’t heard from the owner within the allotted time or they haven’t paid the required fees the Dog Control Act states the dog may be sold, destroyed or otherwise disposed of. Once we reach this point, it is up to Council’s Animal Services team to make a decision on the future of the dog. Only dogs deemed suitable for home placement can be adopted/rehomed. 
Our focus, first and foremost is the safety of the people of Tauranga and the safety of their pets in relation to dog related aggression. We will err on the side of caution every time when it comes to assessing which dogs should be available for rehoming and which ones are not. 
The dogs in the pound that are unclaimed are largely unwanted and un-socialised dogs, many with serious attitude problems. Unfortunately these types of dogs have significant potential for aggression due to their breeding. The right owner can often limit these instincts with good socialising and training. Unfortunately the opposite is also true.

Temperament testing

Before making a decision on rehoming a dog, that dog will be temperament tested (other than those set out below). Individual animal control officers on duty at the dog pound assess dogs in their care and make decisions as to which dogs will be temperament tested. Dogs showing aggression are not tested. Officer safety and risks to other animals are the main considerations before testing begins. 
Dogs must be manually handled for the initial temperament test. On passing this they would then be tested with at least one other dog. Any signs of aggression and the dogs will fail. Any officer can deem a dog unsuitable for rehoming at any time if undesired behaviour is observed. 

Are there some dogs that we will not rehome? 

We do home a variety of mainly pure bred Bull Dogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers etc provided they pass the temperament test. 
There are some dogs that, if not claimed, we will never rehome. This includes: 

  1. Any dog that has been impounded that has a history of aggression
  2. Any American Pitt Bull Terrier type, and crossbreeds of them
  3. Any dog that any officer assesses as not meeting our temperament standards

Dogs belonging predominantly to breed or type listed in Schedule 4 of the Dog Control Act as classified by Government are classified as menacing and are not assessed for adoption. These are:

  • American Pitt Bull Terrier Type
  • Brazilian Fila;
  • Japanese Tosa;
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Perro de Presa Canario

The American Pit Bull Terrier remains the dog with the worst record for attacking people. They form 1.5% of the known dog population throughout New Zealand but account for 18% of the attacks on people which have been reported to Council. 
The Labrador retriever is often quoted as biting more people than any other dog. In terms of the reported number of attacks on people the Labrador is third behind the American Pitt Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. However, when taking into account the population of each breed the Labrador doesn’t feature in the top 10. In addition the nature of the bite and level of aggression is generally a lot less from the Labrador. 


 There are only five situations where Council may euthanize a dog, they are:

  • When an unregistered dog has been impounded and 7 days has elapsed from when the owner was notified and they haven’t claimed the dog (14 days for a registered dog). 
  • When an unregistered dog has been impounded, we don’t know who the owner is, 7 days has elapsed and no owner has claimed the dog. 
  • Where Council has accepted a dog which the owner has surrendered to them. (This is limited to special circumstances. Council does not generally accept dogs that owners no longer want). 
  • At the conclusion of a prosecution and the Court has made a destruction order. 
  • Where the dog is injured or sick, to prevent the animal suffering and has been authorised by a veterinarian.

All euthanasia is undertaken by a qualified veterinarian.

Last Reviewed: 13/11/2015