Dog bylaw changes: 'Aggressive' submitters 'intimidated and abused' people at meetings

Public consultation on changes to rules for dog owners concludes this Friday.
Uros Lunja
Public consultation on changes to rules for dog owners concludes this Friday.

People have been "intimidated and abused" while having their say on proposed changes to dog-walking rules, an Auckland Council spokesman says.

The council has hosted eight drop-in sessions about proposals that would enforce a ban on dogs at most parks and beaches from 10am-7pm from Labour Weekend to the end of March.

One of the sessions, in Browns Bay on the North Shore, attracted several people who were "very aggressive", council policy manager Mike Sinclair said.

"Staff witnessed and received complaints from submitters who felt intimidated and abused by other members of the public, which is never acceptable."

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Sinclair was unable to provide further details on the abuse but said members of the public attending meetings needed to “be mindful of other people's opinions on both sides of this debate”.

Jill Parsons, former president of the Hibiscus Coast Dog Training Club, said there was a "general level of dissatisfaction" within the community at the Browns Bay session.

Drop-in sessions hosted by Auckland Council for members of the public to voice concerns have been described as “poorly managed”.
Auckland Council
Drop-in sessions hosted by Auckland Council for members of the public to voice concerns have been described as “poorly managed”.

"People couldn't believe how poorly it was organised. They [people who attended] were angry and didn't feel like they could express their views,” she said.

Dog trainer Claire Teirney agreed the session was "poorly managed".

"People came in and didn't know where to go, there was a lot of noise in the room and it was very crowded," she said.

"A lot of them felt disappointed with the structure of it and couldn't actually hear anything. It was bad because they were there to have their voices heard."

The Browns Bay session was attended by more than 100 people last month.

Sinclair said it had been moved to a smaller venue following the request of a local board member, which presented challenges. 

"The Browns Bay venue did not have the space or flexibility to set up the event as would usually be done. This resulted in a quite large and vocal crowd in a small room for the beginning of the meeting; which was not ideal," he said.

"At the end of the evening, everybody who attended had been provided with the opportunity to present their views."

Teirney said the proposal to change the rules was frustrating for dog owners.

“In generally, people are thinking' what’s the driving need?'” she said.

“It’s going to make things hard for people with children and the elderly, they’re not going to have enough daylight to exercise their pets with these new restrictions.”

Members of the public are still able to submit online and hard copy feedback forms on the proposed changes to the bylaw until Friday.

Auckland Council's Regulatory Committee chairwoman Linda Cooper said public feedback would determine what changes were accepted in the proposal.

If approved, the council would make amendments to the Auckland Policy on Dogs and Dog Management bylaw, which was put in place in 2012.

A final decision on the proposal will be made by the Governing Body later this year.

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