SPCA Auckland chief executive Bob Kerridge says proposals to microchip newly registered dogs by 2006 and build a national database of dogs and attacks are "a wonderful idea".
The proposals, mooted last week by local government minister Chris Carter, reflect what the SPCA tried to do itself a few years ago, Kerridge says.
"We got involved in microchipping, in the belief that it was the way to go. We formed a company, Identishot, with a view to pioneering it and persuading the authorities to get into it."
However, incompatibility between equipment from different microchip manufacturers hampered the plans.
"We went as far as microchipping dogs that were put up for adoption, but when we realised local authorities and owners didn't have compatible readers, we looked to the government to get involved. That's why we're jubilant now."
Microchipping is the most direct way to link a dog and its owner, he says, "and if you have a siting of a dangerous dog and it's microchipped with the owner's details, there's no doubt who it belongs to".
Microchipping could also have benefits for non-dangerous dogs that get injured, reported to the SPCA and end up on a vet's table, he says.
"The owner can be identified and billed, whereas now that falls on the SPCA's shoulders. Quite often, we don't ever find the owner."
A database with details of dangerous dogs and their owners would also be a boon, he says.
"It would need to be big and independent and there should only be one. Any dog registered would have the full details and that could include court appearances and fines. It would contain information about the owner, too."
Microchipping is established in Britain, Canada, New South Wales and many US states, he says.
Other proposals announced by Carter last week include increasing the maximum penalties for dog attacks, discretionary powers by councils to muzzle dogs believed to be dangerous to the public and a public education drive about dogs and dog behaviour.