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Most dogs live up to their reputation as mans' best friend, but having around 10,000 registered and numerous unregistered dogs in the Whangarei district means there is plenty of scope for things to go wrong – for people and dogs alike.
Armourguard's Whangarei branch has taken on a leadership role in promoting dog safety and responsible dog ownership in its local community to help ensure that every dog-human interaction is a positive one.
Armourguard also manages Whangarei and Kaipara District Councils' dog registration, dog control, pound and animal control services.
"In the past, our involvement with dogs most likely involved our security officers keeping well clear of them when going on to premises," laughs Whangarei branch manager Warwick Taylor. "Now we have specialist dog management educators and dog control officers, and also two dogs – Scrappy and Diesel – as honorary team members!"
These canine helpers play a starring role in a new programme that Armourguard is rolling out to Whangarei and Kaipara primary schools in conjunction with www.kidssafewithdogs.co.nz.
Children are taught how to keep themselves safe around dogs – an important skill given that the incidence of dog bites is on the rise.
Armourguard's dog education pilot programme is still in its infancy, but is already gaining great feedback.
Warwick says Armourguard also aims to make sure dogs are well-looked after.
"Our dog control team does a lot of education work with dog owners. For example, dogs don't bark lots because they are naughty; they bark because they are bored, anxious, lonely, poorly trained or overly territorial.
"Educating owners is the first step to educating their dogs."
Sometimes re-homing ends up being the best approach for dogs and their owners. Through its management of the Whangarei pound, Armourguard works with the SPCA to find new homes for abandoned and confiscated dogs, cats and other animals.
Photo caption: Whangarei dog education team (from left): Karla Aekins and Scrappy with Aimee Waldron and Diesel