Council retains leashing rules

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has stopped short of including in its new draft dog bylaw a rule requiring owners to have their dogs on a leash on sports grounds.

The issue was raised at Thursday's meeting of the council in Wanaka by Cr Craig Ferguson, who said he had seen many dogs roaming uncontrolled on council grounds.

General manager legal and regulatory Scott Carran said sports grounds represented a large area of council land where dogs were exercised.

Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks queried whether the council really wanted to introduce a rule.

On a show of hands, the council elected not to change the existing bylaw that bans dogs from certain areas, such as schools, but allows dogs in other public places provided they are ''under control''.

The draft bylaw, designed to encourage responsible dog ownership, goes out for public consultation later this month. A hearing is scheduled for July.

The proposed changes include a reduction in dog registration fees.

In a staff report by Mr Scott and regulatory manager Lee Webster, it was noted the existing fee structure did not differentiate between ''non-compliant'' dog owners who made high demands on council services and those who made little or no demand, who were subsidising the non-compliant.

Adjusting fee structures recognised and rewarded responsible dog owners and also penalised dog owners who made greater demands on the service, they said.

The greatest proposed fee reduction would be for dog owners who had a fenced area for their dog, had not had a ''negative record'' with the council for the two years before registration, owned a neutered dog and did not have a dangerous or menacing dog.

Registration of a working dog, for example, could drop from $35 to $30, and a de-sexed dog from $60 to $50.

However, even the owner of a dangerous or menacing dog could have their fee payment reduced from $145 to $140.20 by complying with the rules.

- mark.price@odt.co.nz