Keeping dogs as a positive part of Auckland life is at the heart of Auckland Council's new policy and bylaw on dogs.
The policy provides region-wide guidance to ensure dog owners continue to take their dogs to parks and beaches while also ensuring public safety and comfort.
The new policy will also give local boards the power to decide dog access rules for local parks and beaches in their area, to reflect community preferences. This means some of the new local access rules will not apply until local boards have reviewed them and consulted the public.
"As we worked through our approach to dogs, there was a clear desire for regional consistency and local decision-making on local access rules," says hearings panel chairperson Noelene Raffills.
"The approach we have taken recognises the benefits of a single way of thinking and, where appropriate, region-wide rules.
"But we also recognised that one approach to local parks and beaches was never going to meet the needs of dog owners or the wider community and that our local boards can contribute in a way that is more responsive, consistent and transparent."
More than 10,000 submissions were made to council covering 156,000 points from dog owners and non-dog owners. The welfare of dogs is an important and integral part of the new policy.
"We heard a lot about the important part dogs play in the lives of their owners as members of their families, assisting to keep them active through exercising their pets, and providing safety to them and the wider community,” says Councillor Raffills.
The new policy and bylaw on dogs will come into force from 1 July 2013. Until then the existing policies and bylaws of the previous councils will apply.
Features of the new policy and bylaw include:
- a new standard summer time and season for local boards to use when deciding on changes to dog access rules on local beaches (excluding Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island)
- a proactive approach to registration and dealing with dangerous, menacing, and uncontrolled dogs
- region-wide dog access rules on all roads, footpaths, town centres and playgrounds
- region-wide exemptions for disability assist dogs.
It also covers owner responsibility for picking up dog faeces, as well as multiple dogs on premises and dogs in heat.