Support for relaxing dog laws

Walking with Mac, 10, (pictured) helps Glenn Roswell navigate Wansbeck St while on crutches....
Walking with Mac, 10, (pictured) helps Glenn Roswell navigate Wansbeck St while on crutches. PHOTO: WYATT RYDER
Do you want dogs in Thames St? At present you will be fined $300 if you are caught walking your pooch in the main street, or any of the other prohibited areas in Waitaki.

Early public consultation on the Waitaki District Council’s dog bylaws show most people are interested in a dog-friendly Oamaru.

The dog control bylaws took effect in 2014, but they only last 10 years, meaning they are soon due for a review.

The council has set up an online survey for people to have an early say on what they want to change, with 106 responses received by Tuesday.

Preliminary results show 74.5% would like Severn and Thames Sts between Usk and Itchen Sts to become dog on-lead areas.

Additionally, 85.8% would like dogs to be allowed on leads in Harbour St and 89.8% would like dogs on-lead in Thames Highway between Farnham and Elizabeth Cres.

However, 92.5% of those responses were from dog owners.

Twenty pedestrians on Thames St were surveyed about their thoughts, with overwhelmingly pro-dog results.

Of those 20, only three were opposed to the idea and another thought dogs should only be allowed outside of business hours.

Two of those opposed were American tourists, one of whom said she wanted "no dogs where I want to be".

The third was German Shepard owner Trish Hill, who said she knew how intimidated people could be by her large dog.

She often saw people who were clearly scared of her dog and some crossed the street to avoid her.

Allowing dogs on the main street meant there would be bigger dogs like hers, which she believed the public should not have to deal with.

"There are other places you can walk your dog."

Other dog owners, spoken to outside of the survey, were all in favour of a dog-friendly Thames St.

Glenn Roswell is waiting for a hip replacement.

His physio instructed him to take his dog out walking with him, as it helped him keep his walking consistent.

He took his dog, Mac, out for a walk near the harbour every afternoon, but wanted the option to head into town.

Walking with Mac meant he needed only a single crutch, otherwise he would be on two, he said.

He wanted an exception to be made for those who needed a support animal for medical or emotional reasons, provided they had a doctor’s note.

Heather Davis said being a dog owner who worked in the banned area was frustrating, as it meant she could not pop into work if she was walking her dog, or had to leave him behind in the car.

There were plenty of other towns where leashed dogs were not an issue, such as Wanaka.

She believed people liked seeing dogs while out and about and it was important for dogs to be able to socialise as well.

Jeanette Halcrow was open to the idea, but with one stipulation: "only if they’re going to pick up their s..."

She often picked up and disposed of other people’s dog poo while at the dog park, as many owners simply ignored it.

She supported the option of taking a dog through the main street, by wanted a large fine for anyone caught leaving behind dog poo.

The question of dogs around the harbour was divisive among dog owners, with some who believed there was no reason they should not be allowed there with their dog on a lead, while others thought the whole area should have a blanket ban to protect penguins.

The council survey also found 82.9% approved of using $1 from every dog registration fee to subsidise de-sexing of dogs when there was a need, such as due to financial hardship.

The council’s survey is available on its Let’s Talk Waitaki website and is open until February next year.

Public consultation on any bylaw changes would happen in July, with the new laws expected to come into effect in October.