Auckland Council is reviewing the Dog Rules

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By Greg Presland

Auckland Council is reviewing the area’s dog bylaws and policies. This is a herculean task and is something that will attract the attention of a number of we sties. There are a number of different policies and bylaws throughout the legacy territorial local authorities and to understand them and attempt to reconcile them all has taken a lot of work.

A balance needs to be struck. Dog owners tend to be very passionate about their pets and people who do not own dogs are fearful at the thought of “bad” dogs so the reconciliation of each group’s expectations will require some deft consultation.

The date for the close of submissions (February 27) is approaching quickly so I thought that I would offer a few comments. Submissions are welcome and should be addressed to the Council. The Local Board will have some decision making powers in relation to dog access rules in local parks and on local beaches and can also advocate to Council on the form of the proposed changes so feel free to include myself and the other local board members in any correspondence.

The documents are complex. They have policy and legal implications so the need for complexity is understandable. If I have a criticism it is that the summary document has no useful information in it. Rather than generate one summary for the whole region which just keeps saying that things will mostly be the same but change occasionally there should have been a pamphlet for each board area detailing what the changes would be.

The statement of proposal report contains some interesting information. There are approximately 107,000 dogs in Auckland, 96,000 of which are registered. In 2010 Auckland Council received 27,885 dog complaints. The top three complaints are roaming, barking and acts/aggression. There is also emphasis on the need to exercise dogs and also the realization that dogs and their owners benefit from regular exercise.

So what are the proposed changes all about?

They can be summarised in five different areas:

1. Dog ownership rules
2. Access to public areas
3. Access to regional park
4. Access to beaches
5. Obligations of dog owners when their dogs are in public

I will attempt to summarise my understanding of each area in the following paragraphs.

Dog ownership rules

All dog owners will have to be registered. Existing restrictions on the number of dogs that you can own will continue. Every household can have one dog, properties under 2,000 square metros can have two. For an owner to have more than this number they will need to apply for a licence.

Access to public areas

The previous Waitakere City rule prohibited dogs from or within 10 metres of any playground. The new rule will prohibit dogs from any playground and they must be under control on a leash if in the vicinity of any playground when in use.

Dogs will also be prohibited from any sports surface and at all times must be leashed when in the vicinity of a sports surface when in use. This is also essentially a continuation of the existing policy.

On roads, private ways and council controlled car parks and boating areas leashing will be required.

Access to Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

In the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park area it is proposed that dogs will be prohibited from all picnic areas, water supply buffer lands and reservoirs, the grassed areas at Cornwallis, Whatipu Scenic Reserve and Pararaha valley, Lion Rock, North Piha, South Piha outside of daylight saving hours, Lake Wainamu and surrounding areas, the Tasman View Lookout Track, Cascades Kauri Ark in the Park area and on associated beach and foreshore areas. Cornwallis Beach sand area is a designated off leash area from sunrise to 9 am daily. Otherwise the rest of the regional park is a an on leash area.

Access to beaches

This is an area that will attract a lot of attention and the definition section needs some work as its meaning is currently unclear. Prohibited areas include South Piha from Labour Weekend to March 31. Bethells Te Henga is an off leash area during specific hours. North Piha is also off leash apart from areas shown as a rock or reef wildlife area. Marker poles should be observed. My reading of the changes is that there will be some further time limitations imposed so access to beaches will become tighter.

Obligations of dog owners when their dogs are in public

The first one is that if your dog does doggy do it is your job to clean it up. If your dog is in heat she needs to be contained when in public. Dogs classified as menacing will face mandatory de sexing. If dogs are caught uncontrolled on more than one occasion they also face the prospect of being de sexed.
If you want to have your say you can do so in a number of ways. Contact your councillor or local board member, file a submission online, or send a good old fashioned letter in.


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