Call for dog law overhaul

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 07/06/2012
Opinion poll

Should the Timaru District Council allow dog owners to run their pets off-leash in the Scenic Reserve?

Yes, it's a safe place for dogs to run off-leash.

No, it would interfere with other people's enjoyment of the Scenic Reserve.

Vote Result

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Timaru's dog owners have once again expressed their displeasure with bylaws which they say make the area very dog unfriendly.

More than 20 dog owners turned up in support of Timaru dog owner Carol Keelty when she spoke to her submission at yesterday's Timaru District Council long- term plan hearing and asked for a more dog-friendly district.

She said she wished both that she was not having to make the submission and that she had not become caught up in a "bureaucratic nightmare" when she first approached the council 18 months ago seeking changes to the dog control rules in the Scenic Reserve.

"I hope this is the last time I am here. It has consumed many hours of my time which should not have been needed," she told councillors.

Mrs Keelty said more than 1300 people had now signed a petition asking the council for more dog-friendly bylaws.

She said people moving to Timaru from Christchurch found it hard to believe how the dog they had been allowed to walk in Hagley Park became a "terrifying beast in the scenic reserve" when they went to take it for a walk there.

She said the district now had a reputation for being "dog-unfriendly", with comments to that effect being made in the New Zealand Kennel Club's magazine.

All those who have made dog-related submissions on issues, including dog parks and extending the time dogs are allowed on Caroline Bay, have been told the council will be reviewing its bylaws, including those relating to dogs, later this year.

Mrs Keelty said an "evidence-based approach" was not being taken to dog control, and she called on the council to take independent advice.

She thanked those councillors who had taken the time to walk through the scenic reserve with a group of dog owners several months ago, adding they were the people she would be voting for at the next election.

The issue of dogs in the reserve arose back in 2010 when dog owners were unhappy at the actions of council staff, who were issuing dog owners with fines when the owners claimed council signs in the reserve were ambiguous.

Council environmental services manager Rick Catchpowle recommended the main walkway track be identified as a route on which dogs must be on a leash. They must also be on a lead on the roadway (in the reserve) where there was a potential for conflict between cars and dogs that were off the lead, together with the "railway" track on the northern side of the reserve.

Dog owners claimed they needed areas where their dogs could run free.

Send us your views: editor@timaruherald.co.nz or comment online timaruherald.co.nz

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- The Timaru Herald

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