Invercargill dog dispute to go to court

Invercargill City Council. PHOTO: FILE
Invercargill City Council. PHOTO: FILE
An Invercargill woman disqualified from dog ownership says she is going to fight the council deliberation in court.

The deliberation was reached by an Invercargill City Council (ICC) board last Wednesday afternoon, rendering an appeal by the defendant unsuccessful.

Dog owner Danuta Boniface appealed the decision, stating her dogs Argos, a Rottweiler-cross, and Zara, a German shepherd-cross, were not the "vicious, savage beasts" they had been made out to be.

In the past nine years, Mrs Boniface has received 112 complaints over the behaviour of her dogs.

This included 68 for barking, 17 for wandering, three for attacks, and miscellaneous other offences.

Mrs Boniface’s current dogs, Argos, a Rottweiler-cross, and Zara, a German shepherd-cross, were the subject of 71 of the complaints and classified as menacing by deed in 2020 when Argos was alleged to have attacked a woman while wandering.

During the appeal, Mrs Boniface stated the council investigation and subsequent report were incomplete, and alleged a nefarious neighbour had been illegally entering her property to release the dogs.

It was three incidents of Argos wandering in December last year and January and May this year, and Mrs Boniface’s failure to comply with the classification of menacing in a continuous 24 month period, that led to her being served with the disqualification from ownership notice.

The final deliberation states the disqualification from ownership was upheld in its entirety and council did not accept the allegations made by Mrs Boniface as they largely related to the issue of menacing classification, which was outside the scope of the appeal.

"The appellants oral evidence was presented as a monologue where she covered multiple topics and reasons - often in the same paragraph," it said.

"We are satisfied that there are no issues with the Council staff report or Investigation that would warrant the appeal being allowed."

The deliberation acknowledged Mrs Boniface’s allegations that a neighbour had entered her property to release the dogs, but noted that no evidence was presented to substantiate this.

Speaking to the Southland Express following the deliberation, Mrs Boniface maintained her allegations that she was suffering a campaign of harassment by a neighbour, and was the subject of "victim bashing" from the ICC.

"This is the ICC is basically just tacitly aiding and abetting a villain - a person — who has done a criminal act," she said.

"I am desperately, desperately fighting for my dogs. Over my dead body..."

She said she would be taking the deliberation in the legal courts, and that she was worried Argos and Zara may be killed while in the ICC dog pound.

"I will read the fine detail and see what it says and see what I have to do — and the [ICC] had better preserve the lives of these dogs because they have been a bit of a law unto themselves."