Attacks spur new rules at gardens

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2014
Botanic Gardens
POOCH PAINS: Auckland Botanic Gardens manager Jack Hobbs knows shrinking the gardens’ off-leash area won’t please everyone. ‘‘We’re just trying to balance our responsibilities across the whole community.’’

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Jack Hobbs isn't "anti-dog" - he just wants people to feel safe at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.

But the gardens manager is expecting his proposal of shrinking the off-leash area at the park to raise a few hackles.

He put forward the plan at the February meeting of the Manurewa Local Board.

The idea follows six dog attacks formally recorded at the gardens in the past year.

One was on a child, who sustained severe facial injuries, and one was on a member of staff.

Other attacks have been reported but not formally recorded.

"That kind of thing is just not acceptable," Mr Hobbs says.

"People need to feel that when they come to the Botanic Gardens, it's safe."

Mr Hobbs wants to see the off-leash area at the Everglade Drive end of the gardens reduced to about half its current size.

The area would be bordered by the Southern Motorway in the west, access to the palms collection in the south and a small stream, running from the Lower Lake, to the east.

Friends of the Auckland Botanic Gardens president Bill Burrill says the stream would provide a "clear demarcation" between the on and off-leash areas.

"There are only so many signs you can put up and so forth. This way there's no argument."

On-leash rules would remain the same and dogs would still have access to the rest of the park while on a lead.

The Manurewa Local Board voted 4-3 to send Mr Hobbs' recommendation to Auckland Council's Parks, Sports and Recreation Committee, which is reviewing the rules surrounding dog access in the gardens.

People will be able to make submissions when the committee deliberates the issue later in the year.

Manurewa-Papakura councillor Calum Penrose says dog-walking bylaws were "the most contentious issue".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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