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Council adopts changes to dog management

Auckland Council’s Governing Body today adopted changes to the council’s Policy on Dogs and related Dog Management Bylaw to come into force from 1 November 2019.

Councillor Linda Cooper, chair of the Hearing’s Panel that made recommendations to the Governing Body, said that the council has listened to Aucklander’s views which have helped to shape the changes agreed to today.

“Across the region dog owners have told us they want more time to enjoy parks and beaches with their dogs, not less. We have absolutely listened to these views together with the views of non-dog owners.

"We feel our revised dog management policy delivers on what people have said they want, while achieving a good balance to ensure that people who don’t own dogs have a positive experience at beaches and parks.

“We have agreed a time and season rule of 10am to 5pm from 1 December to 1 March in areas where the rule has been applied by the local board. This is great for dog owners giving them flexibility to enjoy more daylight hours rather than waiting until later before they can take their dog out, and also creates certainty for the general public.

“Our focus is on making sure that dogs remain a positive part of all Aucklanders lives by maintaining opportunities for owners to enjoy public places with their dogs alongside measures for responsible dog ownership and dog behaviour,” said Councillor Cooper.

The changes to council’s dog policy aim to better communicate existing rules to the public, see more consistency across the region, as well as improving dog management in Auckland.

This includes introducing a more consistent approach to time and season rules and multiple dog licensing, extending our ability to change access rules to protect flora and providing incentives to owners of dogs classified as ‘menacing’ by behaviour to be rehabilitated, which will incentivise responsible dog ownership.

Approximately 8,025 Aucklanders provided their views on the changes to the policy during public consultation which took place from 1 April until 10 May 2019. A Hearings Panel then made recommendations to the Governing Body based on the public’s feedback on the council’s proposed changes

Auckland Council’s new policy on dogs and related dog management bylaw will come into force from 1 November 2019.

For more information see the Governing Body agenda here (item 11).

What are the key changes?

Time and season rules

Time and season rules are used in popular places, during busy periods to avoid conflict between dogs and other users.

To standardise the time and season definition across the region and make it easier for the public to know when and where they can take their dogs, the council originally proposed a new definition of between 10am and 7pm from Labour Day weekend to the 31 March. This was to reflect the current situation in most local board areas.

The council proposal was not to prohibit dogs being on beaches between 10am and 7pm. Over 2500 beaches, parks and reserves are listed as off leash, and there are at least as many others that are default on-leash. The proposal only amended the time restrictions applied to beaches and parks that already had the time and season rule in place.

The decision to apply a time and season rule to a park or beach is made by local boards and is only applied to those specific areas. In the current policy this is only applied to approximately 150 areas across Auckland. Currently seven of the local boards do not have any parks or beaches that have a time and season rule.

Based on public feedback, the Hearings Panel recommended a new summer definition of 10am to 5pm from 1 December to 1 March in areas where there is already a time and season rule in place. This has been adopted by the council.

Local boards will still decide where access is permitted and the type of access (on leash, off leash, prohibited, designated dog exercise area) in the times before 10am, between 10am – 5pm, and after 5pm.

Multiple dog ownership

A regionally consistent approach for dog owners to obtain a Multiple Dog Ownership License replacing differing rules across local board areas. This will standardise the approach so that anyone living in an urban residential area would need a license to own more than two dogs.

This also creates an opportunity for the council to work with dog owners to make sure that their property is best suited to transitioning to owning more than two dogs.

Menacing dogs

If a dog has been classified as menacing due to bad behaviour, the owner can ask the council to reassess their classification if the owner can provide evidence of a dog behavioural assessment report, their dog does not have any further infringements in a 12-month period, and the owner obtains a responsible dog ownership licence from Auckland Council.

While not a guarantee, this aims to incentivise responsible dog ownership.

Access rules

There are no proposed changes to local dog access rules (where dogs are allowed under control on leash, off leash or prohibited areas and designated dog exercise areas). Local dog access rules are determined by local boards.

The only access rules that have changed are those in regional parks. Dog access rules in regional parks have not been changed since Auckland Council was established in 2010. Regional parks rangers, biodiversity staff, mana whenua and local boards have provided advice on required changes.

There are changes to the dog access rules contained in the council’s dog policy in the following regional parks for the protection of wildlife:

• Glenfern Sanctuary
• Muriwai Regional Park
• Long Bay Regional Park
• Waitakere Regional Park – Whatipu
• Shakespear Regional Park
• Te Arai Regional Park

There is also a standard lambing season prohibiting dogs from 1 July to 1 December in regional parks that have stock - Hūnua Ranges, Mahurangi, Ōmana, Pakiri, Tāpapakanga, Te Rau Pūriri, Waitawa, and Wenderholm.

Communicate dog access rules better

The way that other access rule information is presented has changed so that it is clear and consistent across the region.

We know dog owners want to know where they can take the dogs, so what we are reformatting the way that dog access information is presented. This would mean listing all the areas where owners can take their dog off-leash, where a time and season rule applies, and where dog access rules have changed for the protection of wildlife

This does not change the status of areas, just the way we present information so that it is easy to understand. Future decisions about the type of access rules that apply at local parks and beaches will continue to be made by local boards.

Extension to protect flora

The existing policy and bylaw allow temporary changes to be made to dog access rules for the protection of vulnerable wildlife. This is an important lever to ensure that the council can adapt to Auckland’s changing natural environment and habitats.

It is now extended to the protection of flora allowing for flexible changes to access rules to protect against concerns that threaten Auckland’s environment, such as kauri dieback disease.

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