OPINION: We reported this week on a woman in the United States who was fined $100 because she called 911 after her dog collapsed. During the call, she described her great dane as her daughter, which painted a slightly different picture for paramedics. In court, she couldn't recall using the word "daughter".
But the dispatcher wouldn't make that up, which goes to show how attached some people get to their dogs.
And a degree of that attachment presented itself in the Timaru District Council chambers this week with submissions on the district's apparent unfriendly dog attitude. On Wednesday, 20 dog owners turned out to support a submitter, which, historically speaking, is equivalent to a million ratepayers.
No dogs were present. They are not allowed in the CBD, let alone the council chambers.
We also invited comments from readers, and a number of heartfelt ones came forward. A common theme was that Timaru likes dogs a lot less than other places.
Personally, I have no idea if that's true or not, but the reaction this week would indicate many people think that. Some 1300 of them have signed a petition saying so, and there are a surprising 7750 or so pet dogs in the district.
But I am also conscious that there are two sides to this story, and when councillors come to review the bylaw in October, they will do so with a vocal element on one side, and no one (probably) on the other. Councillors will be guessing a little on where the balance lies.
For instance, and some dog owners do not understand this, not everyone likes dogs.
And some dog owners who think they are in control of their animals, simply aren't.
Barking dogs can be annoying, over-excited dogs scary and vicious dogs dangerous. You need some rules around those things.
But yes, there does seem to be opportunity for some latitude. Centennial Park would be an ideal spot to relax rules, to let dogs off the leash in more areas.
Just as cyclists and pedestrians have learnt to share the park, so too are dog owners legitimate users. Run a trial then, and if there aren't too many incidents (there will be some minor ones), make it official.
And yes, perhaps more spaces generally could be opened up to dogs. And more rubbish bins provided for their droppings.
We're not ready for dogs in Stafford St, and the winter concession on the Bay is fine without extending it to summer as well.
To show good faith, the councillors could also open the chambers to dogs for a day. (Mischievous grin).
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