Enforcement needed, not more rules, panel told

Better enforcement of the existing Queenstown Lakes dog control bylaw would negate the need for a stricter regime, dog-owners told a hearings panel in Wanaka yesterday.

Councillors Calum MacLeod, Merv Aoke and Lex Perkins heard submitters' views on the Queenstown Lakes District Council's new draft dog control bylaw and policy, which attracted 98 written submissions.

Most of those objected to the proposal to restrict dogs off leads in public areas to the rural general zone and were particularly concerned about the need to have dogs on leads on tracks and reserves.

''Why don't you start by enforcing the policies that already exist ... before you start building these laws that don't really have a purpose?'' Jennifer Parr, of Albert Town, asked at the hearing.

Aubrey Rd resident Nicole Meldrum said there were some ''really positive things'' in the draft document, most of which were already in the 2006 bylaw.

''However, there's no enforcement and I would question if you're going to put in a lot more restriction how are you going to enforce it?

"It's going to take a greater investment to suddenly control more bylaws.''

Wanaka resident Graham Dickson said the estimated one or two dog attacks reported to the council each month were a ''pretty minor level of complaint to put a major control on''.

There was no justification for tighter restrictions and existing legislation worked well, he said.

Despite having 30 years planning experience, Mr Dickson struggled to understand how the district's zoning applied to dog lead restrictions.

''If I can't find my way around these things, how's the public going to use the rural general zoning as the basis of where they can let their dog off.''

Kingston dog-owner Graham Dalziel said the council should avoid becoming the ''fun police'' for the district's largely well-behaved dogs who contributed a lot to society.

''I don't want the many good attributes of dogs being overlooked when the council is writing its legislation, just because of the irresponsible actions of a few recidivists.''

Ms Parr said funding from dog registrations would be better spent on community dog education sessions rather than building dog parks, which assumed dogs were going to behave badly.

''There's no need to build prisons in the anticipation of prisoners.''

Wakatipu Dog Agility Club member and council staff member Denis Mander asked that Queenstown's Jardine Park - where the club trains - be designated as a dog exercise area before the bylaw came into effect.

Cardrona Valley farmer Issi Anderson called for reduced fees for registration of working dogs - which were not heavy users of the district's dog control resources - and the inclusion of pest control dogs in the working dog category.

While the $30 registration fee per working dog was less than a companion dog, the cost soon added up for farmers, as having to seven or eight dogs was not unusual, Ms Anderson said.

Avalanche dog trainer Callum Grant, of Albert Town, said rescue dogs needed to be trained off-lead in public places and the proposed new bylaw would prevent that.

He suggested the council provide handouts outlining basic training tips and dog control policies to people registering young dogs and suggested a council officer patrol popular dog-walking areas on occasion, to enforce removal of dog faeces.

QLDC regulatory manager Lee Webster said if hearings panel members decided a significant change to the draft bylaw was needed, such as permitting dogs off-lead on all tracks and reserves, the council would have to do further public consultation.

''It's about getting this bylaw right for the needs of the community. It's as simple as that,'' Mr Webster said.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz