Dog Control bylaw ruled reasonable and necessary
Auckland City Council
2 May 2008
Dog Control bylaw ruled as reasonable and necessary
A High Court ruling made by Justice Stevens has found in favour of Auckland City Council in a case that debated whether the council’s dog control bylaw is necessary and reasonable.
The plaintiff, Geoffrey Harrison asked the court to review the council’s dog control bylaw requirement for dogs to be leashed in public, unless they are in a designated dog exercise area or off-leash area – or the dog is a “working” dog, like a police dog.
Mr Harrison argued that the bylaw restrictions were unreasonable and unnecessary.
The council argued that the bylaw restrictions were reasonable and necessary, and that they balanced the needs of dogs to exercise and socialise with the need to promote safety.
Justice Stevens stated, “I do not consider it unreasonable for the bylaw to require dogs to be on a leash and under control when in a public place.”
“Parliament has clearly entrusted the task of developing and adopting a policy on dogs to elected territorial authorities.”
His honour said the legislation directed territorial authorities to consider “minimising danger, distress and nuisance to the community” when adopting a dog control policy.
His honour however acknowledged that Mr Harrison’s application had been made in good faith, as Mr Harrison is a genuine dog lover, and was concerned foremost with promoting his dogs wellbeing.
“We work hard to balance the needs of dogs and dog owners with the right of the general community to feel safe and not intimidated by dogs,” says Clare Connell, Auckland City Council animal contracts manager.
”The current dog control bylaw was introduced in 2004 after extensive public consultation. We are reviewing the bylaw, and public submissions will be considered at a future hearings by commissioners.”
“Dog issues can be emotive – dogs are part of many families. However, many owners over-estimate their ability to control their dogs, and many people are afraid of dogs. We will listen to what people have told us about the bylaw, and ensure the bylaw is fair, sensible and effective,” Ms Connell says.