Council has 'moral duty' to check on greyhounds

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 05/02/2013

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Greyhound owners with unregistered dogs are on the Palmerston North City Council's radar, even if they do not live within city limits.

Members of the community wellbeing committee say the council has a moral duty to check whether dogs coming to Palmerston North for racing have been registered.

They have asked staff to request information from Greyhound Racing New Zealand about dogs on its database that reside in the city, Manawatu, Rangitikei, Horowhenua, Tararua and Whanganui, so the councils can check whether they are registered.

The move follows a deputation to yesterday's meeting led by co-founder of the Greyhound Protection League of New Zealand, Belinda Lewer.

She said it was not fair that domestic dog owners paid to register their dogs, as the law required.

However, her research showed only about 3000 of New Zealand's 17,000 greyhounds were registered.

Environmental protection services head Wayne Jameson argued the issue was not a local priority and the response should be a national one.

The focus of the council's dog control policy was on public safety "to minimise danger, distress and nuisance to the community generally".

His checks showed there were no racing greyhounds kept in Palmerston North, Jameson said.

The 100-plus dogs brought to race at Awapuni should be registered in the local authority area where they lived.

However, running those checks was not simple, and given the lack of complaints about greyhounds either roaming or attacking anyone, it was not a priority for the city's four animal control officers looking out for the city's 7500 resident dogs.

It would take extra resources to prove greyhounds were not registered in another area, and to issue infringements or prosecute, Jameson said, and if owners of unregistered dogs did pay up, the money would go to another council.

"We would have to spend money, and would not get the benefit."

Officers from other councils had no authority over dogs from their areas while they were in the city.

Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell said it was incumbent on the city council to act where no-one else had jurisdiction.

"Maybe 90 per cent of the dogs in the city never cause any problems, but they have to be registered.

"It appears there is a group of dogs that are not registered, and we are the only ones with authorisation to ensure the law is upheld."

Cr Bruce Wilson said the council had a moral duty at least to team up with surrounding territorial authorities to tackle noncompliance.

A session at the races, with officers from each authority checking registration details, would provide information on the extent of the problem.

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Lewer noted after the meeting that infringement fees, including $300 for failing to register a dog and $750 for making a false statement about registration, would help fund the effort.

- Manawatu Standard

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