Region-wide overhaul for dog laws

Auckland councillors have signed off on an overhaul of the city's dog policies and bylaws, including introducing regionwide rules about dogs on beaches.

The changes, signed off today at the council's Governing Body meeting, drew heated debate and more than 10,000 public submissions covering 156,000 points from throughout Auckland. 

It also means there is now a single dog bylaw covering the whole region, as opposed to seven different bylaws from the former Auckland councils.

The new bylaw means there will be standard times for when dogs are allowed on beaches over summer.

Local boards will make decisions on dog access to parks and beaches in their area.

Other new features of the bylaw include 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 and wide reaching exemption for disability assist dogs.

It also covers owners' responsibilities on picking up dog faeces, multiple dogs on premises and dogs in heat.

Hearings panel chairwoman Noelene Raffills said public submissions refelected a "clear desire for regional consistency and local decision-making on local access rules". 

"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 were 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."

The new rules will come into force from July 1 next year.

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