Auckland family (from left) Rehan (18), Channaka, Millie
and Lasharn Weerasinghe (19), walk Domino (on leash) and
Biggles (off leash) along Wanaka's lakefront while
holidaying in the resort yesterday. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
''Cruel'' and ''repugnant'' rules requiring dogs to be
leashed at all times in most public places would create more
problem behaviour rather than solve issues, Queenstown Lakes
dog owners say.
Three-quarters of the 78 public submissions on the Queenstown
Lakes District Council's draft dog control bylaw and policy
object to a rule that dogs must be on a leash everywhere
except in the rural general zone or yet-to-be-established
council-designated dog exercise areas.
Most submitters said the rule punished responsible dog owners
for the sake of a few ''bad'' owners or animals.
The leash rule contradicted the requirement of owners under
the Dog Control Act to ensure their dogs were adequately
exercised, submitter Jon Mitchell said.
''The proposed clause would make it legally impossible for
dog owners to have their dogs fetch sticks or frisbees, swim
in waterways adjacent to urban areas, or to interact with
other dogs in a safe manner ... is unnecessarily reactionary
and, for dog owners and those who are interested in the
well-being of dogs, actually quite repugnant,'' he said.
Gemma Hutton asked the council to consider animal welfare.
''Having to walk your dog on a lead absolutely everywhere is
both cruel to the dog and takes away most of the enjoyment
for both owner and pet ... I don't know any dog that would be
happy with being on a lead 100% of the time and locked up in
a yard for the rest of the day.''
Determining where the rural general zone stopped and started
was difficult, Melissa Davidson and Nicole Meldrum said.
Wanaka couple Claire and Nigel Perkins were concerned many
tracks where dogs were exercised off leash were not zoned
rural general and Debbie Roy said the bylaw would discourage
families from the public places that ''make Wanaka thrive in
the first place''.
The bylaw would ''take us backwards rather than forward in
the relationship between dogs and owners'', Angela Hook, of
Wanaka-based dog clothing company D-fa, said.
It was well-documented in dog behaviour literature that dogs
on a leash could be more aggressive as they could become
territorial and panicked, Mrs Hook said.
Dog registration fees would be better spent on encouraging
people to pick up after their dogs rather than establishing
dog parks, which were no substitute for obedience,
socialisation and freedom to exercise, she said.
About eight people supported the leash restrictions,
including former dog owners Neil and Hilary Jackson, of
Frankton, who said children, the elderly and people who had
never owned a dog were often intimidated by dogs because of
their ''boisterous and excitable behaviour''.
John Turnbull, of Jacks Point, said dogs should be ''tied up,
shut away or on a lead'' at all times.
''At no times should dogs be permitted to run free. Apart
from farm dogs on their own rural land ... urban areas are
not for dogs.''
Graeme Perkins asked the council to consider stiffer
penalties for out-of-control dogs, and banning dangerous
breeds in the district.
Jo Dippie, John Hare and Hetty Van Hale questioned the need
to change the existing bylaw when the majority of people
responding to the council's online survey about dog controls
supported the status quo.
A hearing to consider the draft bylaw and policy will be held
in Wanaka on July 29 and 30.
QLDC draft dog control bylaw
• No dogs (except disability-assist dogs or dogs in education
programmes or organised events) permitted to enter schools or
designated areas determined by council.
• Dogs must be on leashes in all cemeteries, playgrounds and
other public places except those designated as dog exercise
areas or the rural general zone.
• Dog faeces in public places must be immediately removed.
• Diseased dogs or female dogs in season must be confined.