Dogs could have their day in central city

Dunedin lawyer Sally Peart with her chihuahua Pedro on the edge of the Octagon. PHOTO: GERARD O...
Dunedin lawyer Sally Peart with her chihuahua Pedro on the edge of the Octagon. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Is central Dunedin going to the dogs? It may well be.

Dogs owners could be allowed to walk their pups through the Octagon if proposed changes to a central city bylaw go ahead.

Dunedin City councillors approved consultation on a draft of the council’s dog control bylaw and policy at a customer and regulatory services committee meeting on Tuesday, after deciding to review them in August last year.

A report tabled at the meeting said the proposed changes aimed to improve recreational opportunities for dogs and their owners, as well as protect wildlife and minimise the potential for danger.

The proposed changes included allowing dogs on leashes in the Octagon, Library Plaza and sections of Princes and George Sts as well as allowing dogs off leashes in certain areas of Ross Creek, Te Rauone Beach and Purakaunui Beach among others.

Dunedin lawyer and dog owner Sally Peart said she supported allowing dogs in central Dunedin.

Ms Peart said she brought her chihuahua Pedro to work at her Stuart St law firm, but due to restrictions in the Octagon she had to stick to the surrounding areas when exercising and taking him to the toilet.

Ms Peart said she did not see the logic in having certain streets available and some not, provided people took responsibility for keeping their dogs on a leash.

She believed walking your dog to work through town could become a popular option, and she had never received any negative feedback herself about walking Pedro through town on a leash, she said.

"He’s very much a city dog.

"Dogs just love to be out and about, don’t they, but he does love the attention that he gets."

Councillors also devoted a significant portion of the meeting to exploring dog poo etiquette.

The current bylaw states that dog owners must both "carry and display" a bag for the removal of faeces while in a public place.

Cr Kevin Gilbert questioned why the bylaw specified that dog poo bags needed to be displayed in addition to being used, which seemed "a bit presumptuous".

Cr Brent Weatherall said he was "definitely looking forward to not breaking the bylaw" every time he walked his dog to work in the morning. He later said he always kept a poo bag in his pocket and it frustrated him that people were not looking after their own dog’s faeces.

Failing to remove dog droppings from a public area carried a fine of $300, but he did not think this was enough, Cr Weatherall said.

After questioning council staff, committee chairwoman Cr Carmen Houlahan said it was her understanding that dog owners could be fined for not showing their dog poo bags.

"I could just imagine if we started fining people for not showing their poo bag we would be labelled red tape bureaucratic absolute nonsense, and I’d have to say I would agree to a degree."

Council staff said they had not issued an infringement for that section of the bylaw in the past 10 years.