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Changes to Dog Control Bylaw and Policy will help address welfare concerns

Waikato District Council is reviewing its Dog Control Bylaw and Policy and wants feedback from the community on the proposed changes.

The bylaw outlines Council’s regulations and management plan for dog ownership and recreational dog activity in the Waikato district. 

“We have taken this review as an opportunity to consider a different approach to address some of the issues we are seeing,” says Animal Control Team Leader Tracey Oakes. 

“Dogs bring people a lot of joy. They are an important part of the family for many members of our community but, with the enjoyment of having a dog, there also comes responsibility. We want to make sure the wellbeing and welfare of dogs is protected through responsible ownership, while also keeping the public safe and avoiding nuisance caused by dogs.”

Proposed changes to the bylaw include limiting the number of dogs in rural zones to two dogs per property, with some exemptions. Anyone wanting three or more dogs would require a Council permit. 

Working dogs would be exempt from this rule. The rule would also not apply for multi-unit housing and Papakaainga housing, or at boarding kennel or dog daycare centres.

Council has proposed this change because, at times, large numbers of dogs are being kept unsafely on rural properties.

“Currently, there is no limit to the number of dogs that can be kept on rural properties in the Waikato district but there is a limit of two dogs on all properties which are not rural. Over the past five years, Council has received 58 complaints about multiple dogs in rural areas. This has led to 156 dogs being found in poor conditions and showing signs of neglect.”

Ms Oakes says this isn’t about making the process harder for people but is to ensure the welfare of dogs is protected.

To assess if a permit will be given, Council Animal Control Officers will inspect properties to ensure they are safe and fit for three or more dogs. 

Other proposed changes to the bylaw include making it possible for dogs to be on the sidelines at sports games by removing the 10m prohibited area around playgrounds.

“We know many parents have their dogs with them when they watch their children play sports. While dogs would still be strictly prohibited from being on the playgrounds, they would be allowed beside the playgrounds.”

Dogs would be prohibited from skateparks. It is also proposed to prohibit dogs from cemeteries, to align with our Cemeteries Bylaw 2016. 

The new Dog Control Policy expands on Council’s dog owner responsibilities and outlines the dog exercise areas, where dogs can run free, and places where dogs are prohibited. 

A new dog exercise area is proposed in Tuakau and there are two options for a new fenced dog exercise area in Tamahere – at Te Awa Reserve, or Tamahere Park. 

There are changes proposed to some of the dog exercise areas in Tuakau, Taupiri, Ngaruawahia, Newcastle, Raglan and Tamahere, as some of these are either sport fields, considered unsafe for dogs or located in busy areas.
(To see where these dog areas are, and the reason for the proposed changes, please refer to the map or page 6 of the Statement of Proposal).

Council is legally required to review the bylaw, which offers a great opportunity to look at ways to improve the rules governing dog ownership in our district.

“We have approximately 15,000 dogs in our district so it’s important that it strikes a balance between the wishes of dog owners, the welfare needs of dogs and the needs of wider community,” says Ms Oakes. 

Waikato District Council encourages dog owners and non-dog owners to share their thoughts, ideas and feedback, not only about the proposed changes, but any of the aspects in the Bylaw and Policy.”

People can have their say about the proposed changes to Council’s Dog Control Policy and Bylaw from today. Consultation closes at 5pm on 16 January 2022. 

Detailed information on the proposed changes is available on Council’s website:

The easiest way to provide feedback is to make your comments online but paper copies of all the relevant documents and submission forms are also available at all Council offices and libraries.