Doggy don't: park too foul for children's use

The number of dogs being allowed to do their business on Dunedin sports fields and run around them off the lead has prompted the city's animal services team to increase its monitoring and education of dog owners.

Animal services manager Ros MacGill said the team was taking a stronger stance on monitoring and education following a growing number of reports and complaints about faeces and uncontrolled dogs on sports fields.

The worst incident was when a dog owner reportedly took a swing at a parent at a junior rugby practice at Kettle Park at the weekend after another parent asked the man to put his dog on a lead.

The team involved had since decided to move its practices elsewhere because of the ongoing issues with dogs on the fields.

Animal services patrols had increased and animal control officers were speaking to dog owners they saw, educating them about the rules.

Foot patrols were done at different times when the fields were being used, she said.

For example, officers had been to Kettle Park about 5pm on Tuesday and spoken to several dog owners.

Ros MacGill.
Ros MacGill.
Ms MacGill said the main issue was that people did not seem to understand the rules. New signs explaining the rules, using words, not just symbols, were being erected around the city's sport fields.

It was up to dog owners to take personal responsibility for their dogs and to understand and follow the rules, she said.

Clearly, a situation where children were chasing a ball around would be tempting for any dog, which could bite in the attempt to get the ball, and owners should keep their dogs away at those times, she said.

She encouraged members of the public to report any out-of-control dogs, taking down descriptions of owners and dogs, or registration numbers of cars and dogs and reporting them to the council.

Dunedin Rugby Club junior rugby president Damon Sutherland said one of the club's junior teams had moved its practice largely because of the ongoing dog control problems at Kettle Park.

The issue was becoming a health and safety issue when players were having to pick up dog faeces from fields before training, he said.

Junior rugby coach Craig Cumming said it was a rare night after training when he or the children did not have to wash dog faeces off themselves.

He said he had noticed increased patrols and the situation did seem to be improving, but it was ''clearly'' down to dog owners to take more responsibility.

''Picking up their poop is one of the responsibilities that goes with dog ownership.''

Ms MacGill said the council was reviewing its dog control bylaw this year.

A public survey on the bylaw would be done in June.


Rules on sports fields
 • Dogs are not allowed on marked sports fields in Dunedin, but are allowed around the edges of fields if they are controlled.

• Controlled means on a lead or off lead if the dog will come straight back to its owner when called.

• Dog excrement (in any public place) must be picked up and disposed off appropriately. Owners caught leaving it can be fined $300.



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