Off to get island dogs under control

Dunedin City Council animal control officer Karan Whyte, with springer spaniel Tess, is...
Dunedin City Council animal control officer Karan Whyte, with springer spaniel Tess, is travelling to Samoa to help introduce new dog control measures in the islands. Photo by Linda Robertson
Animal control officer Karan Whyte has 25 years' experience wrangling Dunedin's most difficult and dangerous dogs.

Now, she is hoping to pass on her skills as part of a training support initiative in Samoa, which is trying to muzzle its own wandering dog problem that is blamed for hundreds of people being bitten each year.

Mrs Whyte, a Dunedin City Council animal control officer, has volunteered for an eight-day rotation in Samoa as part of the the Local Government Technical Assistance Facility for Pacific Countries (PacificTA).

The programme was funded from the New Zealand Aid Programme, managed by Local Government New Zealand, which was assisting Samoan police to implement the country's Canine Control Act 2013.

Mrs Whyte said Samoan authorities had begun to tackle the problem by introducing dog registration and control measures across the islands earlier this year.

The focus was initially on Apia, but it would be extended to surrounding villages on both islands. During Mrs Whyte's rotation, from August 12-20, she would be working alongside Samoa's new animal control officers, sharing pointers on safety and the humane treatment of animals.

''We'll be going out, working with them and doing as we do with our other officers here [in Dunedin] - work with each other, support each other, and talk each other through difficult situations.''

It would be Mrs Whyte's first trip to the islands, but she would be taking plenty of experience with her, having joined the council's animal control team about 1989.

She doubted she would have too much trouble making her intentions clear to the island's canine population.

''`No' is different in different languages ...

''I think I'll rely on my tone of voice and body language. That's universal,'' she said.

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