Thursday, January 23, 2014

State inconsistency about pets and beneficiaries

Contrary to what some believe, my long-term advocacy of welfare reform is not about being mean or punitive. It bothers me that HNZ is planning to take a hard line with tenants who have pets. According to the Otago Daily Times:

The SPCA says Housing New Zealand's plan to evict dogs from state houses could be be "catastrophic'' for the animals and community.
Documents released to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act revealed a plan to allow dogs to live at a state house only "in exceptional circumstances''.
HNZ considered dogs a "barrier to independence'' that made it difficult for tenants to "move on'', the documents revealed.
The SPCA said in a statement today that the policy seemed like an overreaction to what was a minor problem with only 37 reported incidents out of an estimated 40,000 dogs.
"Such a policy will cause real distress and suffering to the dogs and the owners who consider their pets as members of their family,'' the statement said.
"The wholesale eviction of 40,000 dogs would be catastrophic for the dogs and the community.''

Without doubt the crossover between beneficiary, known-to-CYF, and HNZ tenant is substantial.

And MSD knows that involvement with animals can be really beneficial for building empathy. About the Epuni Care and Protection Residence and animal visitation:

“Developing empathy is natural, but exposure to violence interrupts this process. Contact with safe, loving others can begin to redress this harm.” Sputnik’s planning to get his own dog one day. “He’ll be my best friend, and I’ll call him Sputnik II.”

Not if you live in a state house you won't.


A beat-up perhaps? The NZ Herald reports today;

Ms Pivac [spokeswoman] said HNZ reviewed its dog policy in 2012 because it was concerned about the seemingly high number of tenants who had dogs without permission.
"At that stage we did consider taking a harder line on dogs, but in the end we have ended up taking a pragmatic approach to what is always a difficult topic for us.


S.Beast said...

HNZ could opt a phase out approach so no new dogs are brought in, but overall this is good policy. Having a dog is certainly a barrier to getting other accommodation.

Why would a HNZ tenant expect to keep their home for life when they don't actually own it and others have the same level of need? Despite incredibly costly subsidies to keep them housed well in excess of what an accommodation supplement would provide there is a prevailing attitude that they should be able to do things that most private landlords would never allow, like keeping a dog(s) due to the damage they do to property.

The SPCA's idea that these dogs be required to be registered (ummm...aren't they meant to be right now?), chipped (not always reliable) and spayed sounds like wishful thinking especially given the high registration cost in some areas.

Anonymous said...

I was amused to hear the radio news soundbite on this subject. As my everyday work takes me to HNZ properties in Christchurch I feel I can give informed comment. We are regularly accosted by unfriendly and menacing dogs which have to be locked away while we do our work. The majority are mastiff/ pit bull types. Kids are playing in the dog shit and heaven knows how they can afford to register them, feed them and their pups.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Get that Anon, My idealistic streak sometimes takes over when it comes to animals. Another day will find me saying that most of the puppies at the SPCA appear to be of similar ilk and should probably be destroyed.