Return, adopt or euthanise? NZ councils on shelter dogs

Kendall Hutt
Source: 1News

In June, Christchurch City Council said none of the 565 dogs it impounded over 11 months had been euthanised.

It prompted us to wonder – how do other regions fare?

Data from July 1 2021 to June 17 2022 from seven councils around the country has revealed 5628 dogs had a happy ending, while 1662 were euthanised.

The remaining 200 or so dogs were still being held in shelters for legal reasons, were being held for a minimum of seven days to see if any owners came forward, or were going through the adoption process. Others died.

1News asked for shelter data from the councils after Christchurch City Council said in June none of the 565 dogs it had impounded during this time were euthanised. 1News wanted to see how many other shelter dogs around the country had found their forever homes.

Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Dunedin were chosen due to their population size.

READ MORE: SPCA kennels across NZ flooded with dogs needing foster homes

The Far North was chosen as it has issues with feral dogs. There are estimated to be around 100 of them.

Far North

The Far North District Council said it had impounded 323 dogs. Of that, 105 were claimed by their owners and 56 were rehomed by the council.

Forty-one went to a rescue organisation for rehoming and 120 were euthanised.

The last remaining dog was still to complete its seven days in the shelter as at June 17.

The council's manager for environmental services Rochelle Deane explained a dog can't be considered for adoption until after a week has passed so owners have time to claim their dog.

She also said it doesn't rehome dogs that are aggressive and likely to attack.

Dogs that aren't claimed and who can't be rehomed are euthanised.

A small percentage of dogs are also put down for welfare reasons, but this must be signed off by a vet.


Auckland Council said 4791 dogs had been impounded across its three shelters in Silverdale, Henderson and Manukau.

The dogs were either collected by animal management or dropped off by the public.

As at June 17, 151 dogs had been adopted, two had been fostered, 158 had been transferred to rescues, 19 had been transferred to the SPCA and 3078 had been claimed by their owners.

Thirty-eight were being held for legal reasons and around 80 were either waiting to be adopted, were being assessed for adoption or were still to complete the seven day holding period - it's there to give owners time to claim their dog.

Sixteen puppies born at the Manukau animal shelter will be up for adoption once they've been weaned off their mums.

A total of 1196 dogs were euthanised, while 29 dogs were dead on arrival and nine died in the shelter.

The council said its shelters are at "capacity" and dogs are waiting longer to find their forever homes. It wants the help of responsible owners to ease the "crisis".

It explained there's been an increase in the number of people looking to give up their pets and in the number of strays.

Beanie is one of the dogs in need of a good home. The year old staffy cross has been waiting for her forever home since December last year - more than 200 days.


Hamilton City Council said it had had 951 dogs through the pound - 717 were found roaming, 130 were signed over by their owners and 104 were seized for Dog Control Act offences.

The council said 532 dogs were reunited with their owners, while 170 were adopted.

A total of 231 were euthanised, the majority for behavioural issues. Other reasons included poor health, parvovirus or at the owner's request.

"Of the rest [18], some are still in the pound waiting to be adopted and we also will send dogs to rescues if they need more time or have special needs," a spokesperson said.

"We have a rigorous adoption programme and we are careful about the dogs we rehome. All are temperament checked, and we are careful to ensure we match the right dog with the right family."


Tauranga City Council said 463 dogs had gone through its shelter.

A total of 281 dogs were released back to their owners, 60 were "returned home", 30 were adopted and six went to the SPCA.

The council's team leader for Animal Services Brent Lincoln said if a dog's found roaming, is registered and has no previous history, it'll be returned home to its owner without any fees being charged.

"Any unclaimed dog is assessed for its suitability to be rehomed," he said.

"Suitable dogs are then advertised on our Facebook page and website and promoted through some of the local animal rescue groups in the area."

"Many of these figures go unnoticed by the community, and so do all the other good things our Animal Services team does for the Tauranga community, such as delivering dog bite prevention education in schools and for work groups," Lincoln remarked.

Eighty-six dogs were euthanised.


The Wellington City Council said 220 dogs had been impounded.

A total of 174 had been claimed by their owners, while 14 were adopted. Another 14 were transferred to other organisations.

Fourteen dogs were euthanised and one was dead on arrival.

Three dogs were still in the shelter as at June 17.


Christchurch City Council said 2246 dogs had been collected by animal management and of them 565 had been impounded.

File image: A dog in a shelter.

Of these 565 dogs, 486 were claimed by the owners, while 46 were rehomed to rescues Dogwatch and Bull Breed Rescue.

If dogs have temperament issues they go to these rescues, animal services manager Lionel Bridger explained.

Thirty-three dogs were adopted by new families.

None were euthanised.

Bridger said these numbers were like a "badge of honour".

"Our team work hard with every single dog that comes through our door to make sure they either get back to their owners, or go to a loving, new home that’s the right fit for them."

While in the shelter dogs get their own kennel, bedding and food which suits their age. They're fed twice a day and exercised every day in a large paddock at the shelter in Bromley, allowing them to have a good run and a sniff around.

"We have a few repeat visitors that I think like to come to the shelter just for the food," Bridger remarked.

Dogs are only put up for adoption when their owners can't be found through phone calls, letters and social media.


Dunedin City Council said it had impounded 187 dogs, but had been able to reunite 150 with their owners.

Twenty-two were rehomed and the remaining 15 dogs were euthanised.

"The DCC does not rehome dogs previously classified as dangerous or menacing, due to their breed or previous behaviour (for example, being involved in an attack)," a spokesperson said.