We listened – that’s the message to dog owners after Waikato District Council adopted its Dog Control Bylaw and Policy today.
After consulting with the community, Council has decided to make changes based on the feedback they received. One of the changes is to remove the proposed permit requirements for rural zoned properties. This means dog owners in rural zoned properties will not need to get a permit for three or more dogs.
“Council had originally proposed a permit for more than two dogs in rural zone areas, but we received submissions from an overwhelming number of people who did not support this,” says Animal Control Team Leader Tracey Oakes.
“Our intention was to consider a different way to address some of the welfare issues we have seen over the past five years, but we acknowledge that a permit was not the best approach. Our sentiment was good - but we got it wrong. We know that the majority of people in our district are good dog owners and we do not want to make it harder for them.”
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.
“Our Animal Control team are dog lovers, and it is heartbreaking to witness dogs being kept unsafely. One dog suffering is one dog too many, but we recognise there are other ways to address issues we see, including using the enforcement tools we currently have under the Dog Control Act.”
The consultation, which was held from 1 December 2021 and 26 January 2022, received 666 submissions; 71 submitters spoke at or were represented at Council hearings on 22, 23 and 24 February 2022.
Submitters also opposed the proposal to change some of the dog exercise areas in the Waikato district to on-leash or prohibited.
While Councillors voted to keep Alexandra Redoubt Reserve, Tuakau as an off-leash dog exercise area, other areas will be made on-leash, as proposed. These are Lower Waikato Esplanade in Ngaruawahia, Te Awa Walkway in Tamahere, Raglan Beach from Opotoru inlet to Aerodome Bridge and Bob Byrant Park in Taupiri. This is because they are in busy areas, making it unsafe for the public to have dogs off-leash, or because they are unsafe for dogs due to erosion or busy roads. However, Council will investigate the possibility of fencing the northern aspect of the Taupiri reserve to use as a dog exercise area.
Council also voted to make two new dog exercise areas - one in Tamahere Park, Tamahere, and the other in Whangarata Reserve, Tuakau. Whangarata Reserve will be used until it is required as a cemetery in approximately 2025.
Dogs will not be allowed on the sports field surfaces at Whatawhata Recreation Reserve and Te Kowhai Recreation Reserve. This aligns with the district wide policy of not allowing dogs on playing surfaces. Councillors stated that these were not appropriate as dog exercises areas due to the increased dog faeces and urine on the playing fields, which has potential health risks to human users of the area. Dogs are allowed on lead on the periphery of the playing field.
A new sports field is being investigated for Te Kowhai, and once developed, there may be a space allocated for a dog exercise area, but this will require Council decision and community consultation. Council is exploring alternative options for dog exercise areas in Whatawhata.
The Dog Control Bylaw outlines Council’s regulations and management plan for dog ownership and recreational dog activity in the Waikato district. It was adopted as a new bylaw today and will be reviewed within 5 years. The Dog Control Policy 2022 expands on Council’s dog owner responsibilities and outlines the dog exercise areas, where dogs can run free, and places where dogs are prohibited.
At today’s meeting Councillors also voted to release a recording of the deliberations meeting.
“There is significant interest in this bylaw, and it was never our intention to unduly withhold the meeting recording, or for it to be held up this long,” says Policy and Regulatory Committee chair, Jan Sedgwick. “I am pleased to be able to release this to the public.”
The recording will be on our website as soon as possible.
On behalf of Council, Councillor Jan Sedgwick thanked everyone for their feedback.
“We went out with a draft and invited people to make submission on changes they wanted. It was somewhere to start the conversation and we would like to thank everyone for taking the time to give us their views.”
There are approximately 15,000 dogs in the Waikato district.
Here is a summary of the key changes:
Proposal to limit the number of dogs in the rural zone to two. Three or more dogs would require a Council permit (with some exemptions such as working dogs)
|This has been removed. Dog owners in rural zoned properties will not need to get a permit for three or more dogs|
Proposing a new dog exercise area at Whangarata Reserve, in Tuakau
|Whangarata Reserve will be used as a new dog exercise area, until the reserve is required as a cemetery in 2025. |
Consulting on two options for a new dog exercise area in Tamahere
|A fenced area in Tamahere Park will become a dog exercise area.|
Proposal to change some of the current dog exercise areas from off-leash to on-leash, because they are considered unsafe for dogs or located in busy areas
Alexandra Redoubt Reserve, Tuakau will remain an off-leash area.
The following will now be on-leash areas, as proposed.
|Proposal to prohibit dogs on sports surfaces at Whatawhata Recreation Reserve and Te Kowhai Recreation Reserve (these are dog exercise areas under the 2015 Bylaw)|
As proposed, dogs will now be prohibited on the sports field surfaces at Whatawhata Recreation Reserve and Te Kowhai Recreation Reserve .
Dogs can be exercised on lead on the periphery of the sport field within the reserve.
|Proposal to remove the 10m prohibited area around playgrounds||As proposed, dogs will be allowed within 10m of a playground. Dogs are prohibited on the playground.|
Proposal to change rule at skateparks from on lead to prohibited
|As proposed, dogs will now be prohibited at skateparks.|
|Proposal to prohibit dogs from cemeteries||Council will remove the rule in the Dog Control Bylaw 2022 and review the existing rule prohibiting dogs in cemeteries, as part of the review of the Cemeteries Bylaw 2016.|
Note: change to central business area in Ngaruawahia
|Dogs are now permitted on lead in the central business area of Ngaruawahia. Dogs were previously prohibited|
UPDATED: 21 April 2022
The deliberations meeting recording can be found here.