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No Relief In Sight For City Dog Owners

June 2004

No Relief In Sight For City Dog Owners

Auckland dog owners are to continue to be issued with $500 instant fines without a warning if they have their dog off leash in a public place. Under the Official Information Act, the Auckland Dog Owners Group has learned that the Council’s “zero tolerance” policy with regard to dog bylaw infringements brought in by Council officers in the wake of the attack on Carolina Anderson in February 2003 was recently endorsed by Councillors on 12 May.

In its OIA response, the Council states:

“Immediately following the Carolina Anderson dog attack, a decision was taken to take a more strict approach to enforcement and issuing infringements. This decision involved the Manager Compliance Monitoring Mr Barry Smedts, the Group Manager Auckland City Environments Ms Jenny Oxley, the Director of Customer Services Mr Paul Sonderer, the Chief Executive Mr Bryan Taylor and the Chair of the Works Committee Cr Bill Christian.”

President of DOG, Dr Cathy Casey says that she was very disappointed to learn under the OIA that the first input from elected members into the “zero tolerance” policy was at Council’s City Development Committee on 12 May with elected members supporting its continuation.

“Despite all the protestations of Auckland’s responsible dog owning community, this Council seems determined to continue to punish owners with their dogs off lead in public. It doesn’t matter whether the dog is obedience trained and under the owner’s control. The recent case of Leanne Pooley and her dog Flossie shows just how ridiculous this policy is.”

“The councillors in favour of the motion “That council continues with its present level of enforcement of the Dog Control Act and Council's Dog Control Bylaw” were: Cr Yates, Cr Christian, Cr Donnelly, Cr Mckelvie, Cr Raffills and Cr Storer. These councillors have a bit of explaining to do to the responsible dog owners in their wards.”

Dr Casey says that Council has also provided information under the OIA about the current practices of Animal Control in issuing infringement notices in Auckland.

“Given that an Animal Control Officer can issue an infringement notice of $500 per dog, I am concerned about a number of current practices within Animal Control. The rules for issue and appeal seem much less stringent that that required by a police officer. For example, Animal Control Officers do not wear name badges and until the OIA I was unaware that they carried a warrant, which has to be produced on demand.

“I am also concerned that if a dog owner appeals an infringement notice, in the first instance according to the Council, it is the Animal Control officers that review the case. Compare this to the independent appeals process for reviewing speeding tickets.”

ENDS

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