Pig, goat join tasered animal list

Brian Benn
Brian Benn
Police tasered fewer animals last year but diversified from just dogs to include a pig and a goat.

Figures released under the Official Information Act revealed police in New Zealand tasered 12 animals last year, compared with 16 in 2012.

In total, 51 animals have been tasered since 2006, when the Taser trial began: 49 dogs, a pig and a goat.

Police national operations manager Superintendent Barry Taylor said, in most instances, the dogs tasered were attacking members of the public or police officers.

A feral goat was tasered last year because the animal control unit of a Waikato city council wanted it captured alive. A pig was tasered last year to remove it from a Canterbury motorway, Supt Taylor said.

Police had tasered animals from 10 of the 12 police districts, the exceptions being the Tasman and Southern districts.

Senior Sergeant Brian Benn, of Dunedin, said tasering an animal would be a ''last resort'' for police.

Snr Sgt Benn was involved in the pursuit of a runaway calf on Dunedin's Southern Motorway last month that involved six police cars.

Police cornered the beast at the rear of a block of flats in Abbotsford Rd, catching it and returning it to its owner.

Officers never considered tasering the calf, he said.

''Because what do you do next? You might knock it off its feet for 10 seconds but it's going to get up angry.''

Save Animals From Exploitation executive director Hans Kriek said he was surprised police would taser a pig, but stunning an animal was preferable to shooting it.

In the past, police shot animals such as cattle beasts.

''Some of these animals were shot many, many times before they finally died and that is not good.''

He understood if police discharged a Taser in the ''heat of the moment'' but he disapproved of police hunting an animal to taser it after an incident.

Massey University professor of veterinary neurophysiology Craig Johnson said if the goat had not posed a danger to anybody it should have been sedated by a vet rather than tasered by police.

However, an animal is generally subdued 15 minutes after sedation so if it posed an immediate danger then sedation would be unsuitable.

There were too many variables to determine how tasering affected animals, Prof Johnson said.

''Tasers are made to be shot into human torsos to deliver a current into the human which is fairly safe, yet debilitating. I don't know how that would scale down to animals smaller than humans.''

The numbers: Animals tasered by police.
By region
• Southern ... 0
• Canterbury ... 3 dogs, 1 pig
• Tasman ... 0
• Wellington ... 4 dogs
• Northland ... 1 dog
• Central ... 1 dog
• Eastern ... 3 dogs
• Bay of Plenty ... 13 dogs
• Waikato ... 2 dogs, 1 goat
• Counties-Manukau ... 10 dogs
• Auckland City ... 3 dogs
• Waitemata ... 6 dogs
• Trial period ... 3 dogs

• Total ... 51 animals

By year
• Taser trial between September 2006 and August 2007 and between March 2009 and March 2010 ... 3 dogs
• 2010 ... 8 dogs
• 2011 ... 12 dogs
• 2012 ... 16 dogs
• 2013 ... 10 dogs, 1 pig, 1 goat

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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