New Plymouth District Council v We Love Dogs Charitable Trust
You may have seen the publicity concerning We Love Dogs Charitable Trust’s conviction and sentencing under the Dog Control Act 1996. We Love Dogs regrets the situation that developed, that resulted in the bite to the young girl. Our sympathies, thoughts and concern have been with, and continue to be with, her and the family impacted.

Whilst legal proceedings were underway, we were unable to reach out substantively to the family or advise the public of the situation, to assure all the steps taken to prevent an event like this reoccurring. Whilst the dog that harmed was not in our physical care at the time of the incident, we immediately implemented changes to ensure that foster dogs were not placed with families who have children under the age of ten, with the exception of small puppies under the age of 15 weeks and small breed dogs. Our fostering families understand that the dogs come from all kinds of backgrounds, sometimes good and sometimes difficult, and we provide them with information, support, skills and equipment to manage them appropriately, while the dogs transition into a new family and world. We work really hard to ensure our dogs are appropriately matched to foster families. This is based on assessments and processes set out below.

We have engaged an independent consultant to ensure we have the highest possible standards in rehoming. These processes include:

  1. Dog owners surrendering their dog complete a detailed questionnaire to ensure we understand the nature of dog’s behavioural history’s.
  2. We Love Dogs have all surrender applications assessed by a Certified Canine Behaviour Consultant (IABC), (except for puppies under 15 weeks) using a traffic light safety system before placing those dogs with fosters. Since the accident to the child, even dogs the team believe are fine to move to foster care are assessed by the Certified Canine Behaviour Consultant (IABC).
  3. After assessment and wherever possible, we also send our contracted trainer or an experienced volunteer to meet the dog before it is accepted into the programme. This is to complement the Certified Canine Behaviour Consultants (IABC) assessment.
  4. We have also developed an extensive foster handbook to provide guidance to foster carers. It is based on a similar publication produced by “The Dogs Trust” in the UK and is one of the most comprehensive in New Zealand.
  5. More recently, funding has allowed us to contract a trainer who is available to our foster carers should they need direct support over and above what our rehoming coordinators provide.
  6. We continue to develop and review processes to ensure they remain fit for purpose with a focus on safety for people and dogs alike.

We Love Dogs is a Trust run exclusively by the community for the community, servicing a need that is not met by the district Dog Pound, nor SPCA. We rely on the trust and confidence of that community, and we are grateful for the ongoing support. We are proud of the high success rate of permanently rehoming animals that people do not want or are simply unable to continue to care for. We continue to do so knowing that the new owners love and are rewarded by receiving what are usually simply amazing animals.

Again, our thoughts are with the family and we hope to be able to reach out to them shortly.