Animal Welfare obligations are changing

The Animal Welfare Act has recently been updated to include regulations on shelter, muzzles, collars, tail docking, removal of dew claws, dogs in cars, and dogs travelling on the back of vehicles.

Make sure you stay up to date, as infringements can result in fines, and in the case of tail docking and dew claw removal, criminal convictions may result.

Full details are available on the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) website, and most of it is common sense. In brief:

  • Clean, dry draught free shelter must be provided
  • Muzzles (if used) should fit well without rubbing, and should allow panting, drinking and vomiting
  • Collars shouldn’t be too tight, or too large/heavy, nor so loose that they can catch legs or feet
  • Cosmetic tail docking is now banned
  • No articulated (bony) dew claw is to be removed, unless by a vet, and then only of a dewclaw that is diseased or damaged – i.e. no prophylactic removal of articulated digits
  • Dogs should not be left in vehicles on warm days. Leaving the windows open does not reduce the inside temperature enough to be safe. Care needs to be taken when travelling with dogs on warm days, to provide enough rest and water
  • Dogs on the backs of vehicles must be appropriately restrained so they can move freely but cannot fall off the side or be dragged. Working dogs can be loose on the back of a vehicle if they are actively working


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