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Council Warns Off Dog Protesters

Council Warns Off Dog Protesters

If the ‘Family Dog Day Out’ being organised by an Auckland Dog Owners in Western Park this Sunday is a ‘public assembly’ it is illegal, according to a City Council Manager. The mass dog walk has been organised by DOG (a group representing over 500 Auckland dog owners) for noon on Sunday to protest against the Auckland City Council’s attempts to restrict off leash access for dogs in city parks.

In an email yesterday to DOG President Dr Cathy Casey President, Environmental Health Officer Jacqueline McDougall warned

”It has been brought to our attention that your organisation, DOG, has organised a Family Dog Day Out on Sunday, 20 July at Western Park. It is assumed you have arranged to use this park as it is a designated dog exercise area, however are you aware of the requirements of council's dog bylaw section 12.2.7 which states ‘No dog shall be permitted to go within 10 metres of any playground, which is owned or under the control of the Council, or to be on any park or reserve where a public assembly is taking place at that time. There is concern that your organisation is planning an event in contravention of council's bylaw and would not be considered responsible dog ownership. Also I note that you have not officially booked the use of the park through council's events and film facilitation department as any one who plans this type of activity is also required to do. Should you have contacted us before the event we would have been able to assist you in facilitating a complying event.”

Dr Casey says she was stunned by the warning.

“I’m not sure when a gathering of dogs and owners becomes a ‘public assembly’ for the purposes of the bylaw, but I have informed Ms McDougall that we are going ahead with our protest regardless.”

Ms McDougall has told Dr Casey that dog control officers will be in attendance on the day.

“I asked her if they would be issuing tickets and she replied that they would be there to ensure that the dogs are under control and not fighting with each other. I believe this threat of action by dog control officers is a another knee jerk reaction by Council to try to prevent lawful protest action,” Dr Casey said.

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