A decision to uphold his disqualification from owning a dog
has shocked a Dunedin dog owner, who believes he has been
unfairly targeted by the Dunedin City Council's animal
But council staff say any suggestion animal control's earlier
prosecution of Mario Tucholski was because of personal
differences between him and animal control staff is
Mr Tucholski was disqualified by animal control from owning a
dog for three years, after he was convicted in the Dunedin
District Court of allowing his German shepherd, Kaiser, to
rush at a car in a manner that damaged the vehicle, an
offence under the Animal Control Act.
The council says the prosecution followed incidents in which
Kaiser bit a woman and attacked other dogs.
Mr Tucholski appealed the disqualification, which is
mandatory after a conviction for offences under section of
57A of the Dog Control Act, and the classification of Kaiser
as dangerous, to the council hearings committee.
Mr Tucholski said he was still considering his options,
including an appeal to the district court, after the
committee, made up of Crs Colin Weatherall, Kate Wilson and
Andrew Noone, this week decided to uphold the
disqualification, although reduce the period from three to
Mr Tucholski has been ordered to find a new home for Kaiser
as a result of the decision.
The committee's decision said the dangerous dog
classification stood because evidence from a veterinary
clinic was that the dog was aggressive and unable to be
controlled without Mr Tucholski's presence, and the committee
did not believe the dog was likely to change its behaviour at
this stage of its life.
Mr Tucholski's wife, Katie, said her husband's shock derived
from the fact the prosecution was the council's first in 10
years for a dog-related incident.
Documents they received from the council showed there had
been many incidents worse than a dog scratching a car, and
repeated incidents of violence from the same dogs, yet none
of those dogs' owners had been prosecuted, she said.
"This must be personal, then."
Animal control team leader Ros MacGill denied that and said
prosecution had been the only course of action left for the
"As stated by the district court judge, the council could not
be criticised for taking this action.
The judge also stated that it was sending the wrong signal to
dog owners that there wasn't a consequence when this type of
incident occurred and it wasn't a matter of just slapping the
owner on the wrist with a wet bus ticket."
Asked why no other prosecution had been taken in 10 years and
only one other disqualification, despite other similar, worse
and repeated incidents with dogs, she said all cases were
assessed on their merits, taking all circumstances into
consideration before a decision was made.
In the past year, 20 dog owners had signed over their dogs to
the Dunedin City Council to be euthanised as a result of an
"If the owners had not chosen this course of action, these
dogs may have been dealt with in the same manner as Mr
Tucholski and Kaiser."
The Tucholskis told the hearings committee they had taken the
action they had thus far because they did not want their dog
If the disqualification period, which went from the time of
the car incident last December, was longer than the time
already passed, they would likely have to have the dog put
down, as there was no-one who would be able to take him.
Mr Tucholski has 14 days to either appeal, or find a suitable
home for the dog.