Dog owners' wrath unleashed over rules

Auckland family (from left) Rehan (18), Channaka, Millie and Lasharn Weerasinghe (19), walk...
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.


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