'All they want is money': Auckland woman's anger over dog registration fees

Dog ownership has soared in New Zealand over the past five years, outstripping the growth in people in most of the main cities.

 An Auckland dog owner who has been fined at least $3000 for not registering her two dogs in time wants Auckland Council to reconsider its annual fee.

Onehunga woman Natalie Redman said she had failed to register her two dogs, Nala and Blue, on time almost every year for the past three years because she couldn't afford to.

She was one of thousands of Aucklanders who had been fined by the council in the past three years for not registering their dogs in time.

Blue and Nala cost hundreds to register every year.
Blue and Nala cost hundreds to register every year.

Figures released under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act revealed council collected $1.52 million in that period from pet owners for failure to register a dog.

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"All they want is money, money, money – they don't care about anything else," Redman said.

Blue, an American pit bull terrier, was classified as a menacing breed so his annual registration fee was higher than that for Nala, a rhodesian ridgeback.

When Redman didn't register her dogs in time, she copped a $300 fine for Blue alone.

"It's ridiculous that it costs so much."

Redman said she understood that owning a pet was expensive, but living off a benefit of less than $100 a week for her expenses alone wasn't enough to cover everything.

Her dogs have also been in trouble with the council for barking and failing to stay under control on a leash and have been impounded a few times.

In the past three years, the council has collected $1.2m in total from owners who failed to keep a dog under control.

"I think I've paid close to $5000 on fines, and I know people will say that I shouldn't own a dog if I can't afford it but they are a part of my family," Redman said.

"I would do anything for my dogs. Sometimes I don't even eat just so they can, but if [the] council stopped the annual registration fee that would help so many more people like me."

Auckland Animal Management lead specialist Denise Pieters said annual registration of dogs was important.

It helped pay for services including emergency assistance with dogs, impounding and kennel maintenance, street patrols and dog education community events.

"It help ensure dogs are a positive part of life in Auckland," Pieters said.

"There are [more than] 102,000 registered dogs across the Auckland region. Last year, Auckland Council Animal Management responded to more than 40,000 requests for service."

From 2015 to 2018, Auckland Council issued 13901 infringements to dog owners and collected $3.5m in fines.

Central and south Aucklanders were the most fined in the region with $1m, while fines collected from dog owners in the west added up to $958,000 and north $543,000.