A final revised dog management bylaw and policy is being prepared by Tauranga City Council, following extensive feedback from the community.
The policy states the general approach to the management of dogs in Tauranga, while the bylaw states the specific rules that dog owners must follow.
Together, the documents outline how to minimise any danger, distress or nuisance from dogs while ensuring the exercise, socialisation, and recreational needs of dogs and their owners are met in the city.
Tauranga City Council says a review is not only appropriate but necessary, given it was last done in 2008.
“It is now time to check the management policy and bylaw still provides for the care and control of dogs in Tauranga,” says TCC.
As part of the review council has proposed the following amendments to the management policy;
• Amend current wording to: Dogs in public places – Dogs need the ability to exercise unrestrained and socialise with other dogs. Therefore, council does not restrict dogs to dog exercise areas and considers it appropriate that dogs are able to be exercised unleashed in public places so long as when circumstances require, the dog can be leashed and under effective control.
• Amend current wording to: Dog safe communities – Public education programmes for dog owners and the wider community are available to ensure that potential conflicts are managed in a way that balances the interests of all people in the community.
In addition council also proposes to make the following changes to the bylaw;
• Minor amendment to the definition of the Mount Maunganui Dog Prohibited Area (which covers Waikorire [Pilot Bay], Mount Maunganui, Moturiki [Leisure Island] and Mauao). Refer to maps in bylaw.
• Extend the prohibited area from Mount Maunganui Main Beach to 255m further south along the beach past Moturiki (Leisure Island).
• Replace the 200m restriction around the Ōmanu and Pāpāmoa surf lifesaving clubs with a defined area of the beach in the vicinity of the clubs, and include the flagged lifeguard areas, while allowing dogs on-leash to transit through these areas. Refer to maps in bylaw.
• Define the summer season as 15 December to 15 February between the hours of 10am and 5pm.
• Remove The Elms from the list of prohibited areas.
• Prohibit dogs 10 metres from exercise equipment in reserves.
• Council to have authority to apply temporary restrictions on dog access for the purposes of leisure, cultural, or sporting events in parks and reserves, or where necessary to protect wildlife.
• Dogs cannot be left unattended in a public place, unless they are in a designated area that provides separation from the members of the public (disability assist dogs excluded).
• Dogs are prohibited from libraries, council service centres, council community centres and indoor sports facilities.
• No person may exercise more than two dogs off leash in a reserve at any one time.
• No person may exercise more than four dogs on leash in a public place at any one time.
• All dogs classified as menacing must be neutered, including dogs that are transferred to our district.
The documents went up for public submissions earlier this year and closed on September 17, with submissions heard by council on October 1.
A total of 265 submissions were received on the draft Dog Management Policy and draft Dog Management Bylaw with 16 submitters requesting to be heard.
Wendy Joy Baker, an ex-Tauranga resident is one of many who were heard during verbal submissions.
She says the policy and bylaw is a matter of compromise and mutual respect between dog owners and non-dog owners and in her written submission, she has included a number of photos dogs seen in clearly signposted “no-dog” areas at Mount Maunganui.
“Council needs to make sure people with dogs are abiding by the rules and dog owners need to be considerate of others,” she says.
“There are many dog attacks and dog bite injuries in New Zealand, which shows dog owners need to be more responsible.
“Council needs to be fair to non-dog owners who may not want a dog near them in a public place, which is their right.”
She proposed adding a rule which says all dogs should be on leads in any city reserve and has asked council to consider implementing a designated dog exercise area with better signage.
“Dog owners who take their animal into no dog zones are not being fair to others who might want to enjoy this no dog zone.”
Wendy, who has been a dog safety educator for a number of years, says she is passionate about the issue.
“Councils need better rules, education and more enforcement. Prevention is often one of the best ways to prevent injuries and my work in dog safety education I will be helping to educate many on dog safety.”
She says while she has grown up around pets, she feels there is a need for enforced responsibility.
“I’ve grown up around dogs and I know what it means to love them, and how much exercise they need.
“There needs to be a balance with dog owners and non-dog owners, we’ve all got to live and enjoy the life we live.
“My father was a WWII veteran who fought, alongside other ancestors and brave war veterans, for a better country. It’s not a better country with all the uncontrolled dogs and dog bite injuries happening.”
A number of conservation groups and individuals have also made submissions including Forest and Bird, Western Bay Wildlife Trust and conservationist Carole Long.
Carole, who belongs to Forest and Bird and has a vast history of working with Department of Conservation, says she’s pleased wildlife has been taken into account in the proposed changes.
“I was really thrilled to see the oystercatchers were able to nest and raise their chicks right in the middle of Mount Main beach this year and dotterels too. People aren’t the problem in this area, dogs are.
“I’m pleased to see council is considering extending its no-dog areas.
“I’ve lived at Papamoa Beach for a number of years, and during that time I’ve seen dotterel and oystercatchers occasionally, but there is very little parts of this beach where they are able to nest. I’d like to see more areas be made dog-free so there is more space for wildlife.”
She says kiwi, in particular are a species which dogs pose an enormous risk to.
“It’s very hard to convince people about the risk dogs pose to kiwi. Kiwi look staunch, and they are, but they have no keel bone, no wishbone, no flight muscles and their ribs are very fragile.
“It only takes a nudge from a dog and their ribs break, pierce their lungs and they are dead. Hundreds of kiwi are killed by dogs and it’s not acknowledged. There needs to be more education for dog owners and awareness about this.”
Sue Lee on the other hand believes the review needs to take a more positive approach.
“As a recent owner of a dog it concerns me that so many people growl about them, but not many people who are prepared to be the answer to the problem,” she says.
“What I see in Tauranga is a council that wants to do progressive and interesting things, and my idea is for council to consider a positive way of managing dogs in our city.”
She has proposed council introduce a dog exercise area.
“I owned a small Maltese dog when I lived in Melbourne and learned very quickly dogs are not that popular in the city, however, there are dog parks set aside for them, they are fabulous.
“Everyone accepts it’s what you do when you have a dog: you take it to the park. There’s water provided, it’s safe, secure and all fenced in; it’s a brilliant idea.
“On behalf of other families who own a dog, I believe we would look at considering, setting aside an area in our near-future plan, where dog owners can exercise their pets without fear we are fouling its grounds or that our dogs are running too close to children’s playgrounds.
“It would be special for us to take our dogs where we can do dog-related activities in the same way people use things like sports grounds to do their thing.
Sue has also proposed to create an action group, to manage dogs on behalf of council.
“We don’t need a whole park, initially an acre or two would be enough. Just somewhere that wouldn’t annoy any neighbours, where we can do dog agility and training, the positive things for our pets.”