Dog attack comments bite SPCA boss

SPCA Auckland executive director Bob Kerridge says he stands by his comments about the ethnicity...
SPCA Auckland executive director Bob Kerridge says he stands by his comments about the ethnicity of dog owners and conviction rates. Photo: NZ Herald file
The executive director of SPCA Auckland has stood by controversial comments that ethnicity plays a part in the high number of dog attack convictions in South Auckland.

Bob Kerridge was yesterday widely reported as saying that the ethnicity of dog owners played a part in the emphasis that they placed on the responsibility.

"It's a fair suggestion that ethnicity does have a bearing factor in terms of dog attacks, particularly borne of the fact in the various of groups that we have - those of immigrant [groups] and Pacific Island people - that dog ownership is not natural to them," Mr Kerridge told Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

His comments were quickly condemned by Mangere MP S'ua William Sio Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy who described them as "unhelpful" and "incredibly offensive".

Figures released under the Official Information Act show there were 314 dog attack convictions in South Auckland between 2009 and 2014. In Auckland City, there were 77 convictions in the same period.Appearing on RNZ's Morning Report this morning, Mr Kerridge stood by his comments.

"I think the figures speak for themselves," Mr Kerridge said.

"If you look at Manukau city and its make up of population then obviously it is a very varied population - both immigrants and ethnic people."

"In terms of our own prosecutions for dog offences, a very, very large percentage of those are also ethnic and also from South Auckland.

"What we're saying is, this is a contributing factor, we're not making an issue of it."

Mr Kerridge highlighted Pacific Islanders groups and "other immigrants" as being partially responsible, but conceded that SPCA conviction figures did not record ethnicity.

"Socioeconomics is another contributing factor, there's not much we can do about that.

"We're not pointing the finger at anyone, we're just generalising and saying that it is a contributing factor.

"The bottom line is, education is required."

Mr Kerridge declined any insinuation that he was racist. "I haven't got a racist bone in my body."

A large contributing factor behind dog attacks was ignorance, Mr Kerridge said. "And therefore we need education."

Mr Kerridge added that he favoured licensing owners instead of registering individual dogs.

- Brendan Manning of NZME. News Service

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