Soaring dog-ownership levels in Dunedin are fuelling a rise
in complaints about barking, fouling and aggressive animals,
the Dunedin City Council says.
However, council animal control team leader Ros MacGill says
the situation remains ''business as usual'' for the council's
team of five animal control officers.
Council figures made public this week showed there were
16,122 registered dogs in the city by June 30 this year, up
25.6% from 12,834 in 2004-05.
The tally revealed the latest increase in the city's dog
population, which Ms MacGill said had steadily risen over the
years and was at record levels.
''It's just going up and up and up and up ... It's never been
that high before,'' she said.
As a result, the number of complaints about dog behaviour
were also climbing, up 71.2% from 2231 in 2004-05 to 3819 in
the 2012-13 year, she said.
Those received in the last year included complaints about
aggressive dogs (250), dogs attacks (248) and barking (1065).
At the same time, the number of dogs classified as dangerous
in the city had dropped, from nine to seven, as some had
died, while the number of menacing dogs stood at 221.
Ms MacGill said the rising number of dogs and dog-related
complaints meant the council's five animal control officers
were also increasingly busy.
They now spent the majority of their time dealing with
dog-related issues, but - given the population of the dogs in
the city - that was just ''a reality'', she said.
''The officers spend a lot of their time working with the
complainants and the dog owners, trying to resolve it.
''It's often not just a one-off visit ... If it's a barking
complaint, for example, they'll go back and have a chat with
both parties to try and make sure to resolve it,'' she said.
Fouling remained an issue, as did owners who refused to clean
up after their pets, she said.
Unfortunately, it was also hard to police, although bag
holders placed at strategic locations around the city were
proving popular, she said.
Owners caught failing to clean up after their pets could face
a formal warning for a first offence, followed by a $300
infringement notice if caught again, she said.
Members of the public were encouraged to report owners not
following the rules, or to remind them of their obligations,
''It's really hard to catch people. People complain about the
fact that there's fouling in certain parts of the city but,
for us, all we can do is patrol.
''If we do catch somebody, which is very unlikely, then we'd
be having a chat with them,'' she said.
Dunedin dog complaints