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Identifying off-leash dog exercise areas underway

Process for identifying off-leash dog exercise areas underway

Where to run the dog, or not to run the dog; that has been a question perplexing many an Auckland dog owner.

Yesterday, Auckland City Council moved a step closer to ensuring a satisfactory answer to this question when its Works Committee endorsed its dog exercise working party’s assessment criteria and process for public consultation. This will now be forwarded to the various community boards for implementation.

To attain city-wide consistency, and to ensure adequate consultation takes place and decisions are made close to those affected, community boards have nominated working parties to determine local off-leash dog exercise areas according to the established criteria.

The consultation process and criteria are for determining the appropriateness of parks and reserves in Auckland as off-leash dog exercise areas. The criteria include considerations such as physical characteristics, safety, current and future use, surrounding development, and conservation values.

The Works Committee also requested council officers to look at ways to encourage owners of unregistered dogs to register their dogs. It is a requirement of the Dog Control Act 1996 that all dogs in Auckland over the age of three months be annually registered with the council.

Officers will report to the May Works Committee on additional ways to encourage 100 per cent registration of dogs in Auckland. Currently, staff do random street audits, involving a door to door search for unregistered dogs. When an unregistered dog is located, the owner is given the opportunity to register the dog. Subsequent failure to register the dog within 21 days can result in a $200 fine. As an incentive to ensure that people register their dog, the fees are reduced if a new dog is registered part way through the registration year.

“When we think about it, registering our dogs is really a simple way of showing we care about our fellow Aucklanders and our four-legged friends. And a registered dog is also a happy dog – if it should get lost, it could easily be reunited with its owner,” says Councillor Bill Christian, chairperson of Auckland City’s Works Committee.

The vast majority of Auckland residents are responsible about owning a dog, ensuring their dogs are registered dogs – some 18,047 dogs were registered with Auckland City at the end of March 2003.

“Come on, let’s play our part and register our dogs,” says Mr Christian.

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