FAQs about Consultation
We know the timing isn’t ideal and that this is a busy time of year for people. The Local Government Act 2002 requires bylaws to be reviewed within a certain timeframe. Unfortunately, we need to consult now to allow enough time to review submissions, hold hearings and have time for deliberations.
Note: Council have listened to your feedback about the timings and have decided to extend consultation period to make it easier for people to make a submission. You now have until 5pm on 26 January 2022, instead of 16 January as earlier advertised.
Yes. Under legislation, Council is required to notify dog owners about possible changes. We have done this via email or letter. In addition to contacting all dog owners, Council also contacted a large number of stakeholders including iwi, dog or animal interest groups and those who have previously ‘followed’ dog related groups on Council’s consultation page.
Four public notices were advertised, and a media release issued. Council has published this on its Facebook page as well.
We wanted to make sure as many people as possible were aware of this proposal and encourage them to have their say.
These are proposed changes. A decision has not been made yet. You have an opportunity to have your say and we encourage you to make a submission. Anyone who makes a submission can request to speak at the hearing.
Elected members are provided with all submissions and hear all submitters who have chosen to speak at the hearing in February 2022. Councillors are also provided with an analysis of submissions, which include the key submission themes. Staff also provide comment on each individual submission. This information is made public on our website prior to the hearing.
Following the hearing Council considers what changes could be made to the proposal based on community feedback.
1. Submissions presented
Elected members read and review all submissions, and hear submitters (who wish to) speak at the Council hearing.
Following this, the elected members will discuss the submissions and how they relate to the proposed changes to the Bylaw or Policy.
The elected members then decide whether to adopt the proposed changes (taking into account public submissions).
The Bylaw and Policy will then be presented to the Policy and Regulatory Committee on 22 March 2022, and Council is scheduled to adopt a version of the Bylaw and Policy on 11 April 2022.
Elected members make the final decision on any proposed changes.
If you requested to speak at the hearing, you will be contacted with details about the date, time and location. Each submitter wanting to speak is allocated a 10 minute timeslot.
The easiest way to make a submission is online, but paper copies of all the relevant documents and submission forms are also available at all Council offices and libraries.
FAQS about proposal to introduce permits for 3 or more dogs in the rural zone
We have taken this review as an opportunity to consider a different approach to address some of the issues we are seeing. Currently, there is no limit to the number of dogs that can be kept on rural properties in the Waikato district but there is a limit of two dogs on all properties which are not rural.
Council has proposed this change because, at times, we have seen large numbers of dogs being kept unsafely on rural properties.
Working dogs would be exempt from this rule. The rule would also not apply for multi-unit housing and Papakaainga housing, or at boarding kennel or dog day-care centres.
Over the past five years, Council has received 58 complaints about multiple dogs in rural areas. This has led to 156 dogs being found in poor conditions and showing signs of neglect.
These dogs were at seven different properties. Although this is a small number of properties, it is 156 dogs who are experiencing neglect and held in poor conditions. That is a significant number – and our view is that one dog being neglected is one too many!
The complaints came in from members of the public who had observed something untoward and were concerned. Initially when discovered many of these dogs were unregistered. All dogs remaining at these properties became registered. The majority of these dogs were contained to their property.
Many of these dogs have been seen multiple times but are only counted once in this number.
The Dog Control Act 1996 provides a clear definition of what is a working dog which Council have decided to adopt as an exemption to the restriction of having two dogs on rural properties. Hunting dogs are not part of that definition.
If you have three or more dogs, you will need to apply for a permit.
The bylaw doesn’t prescribe the terms and conditions of a permit (which is usual for a bylaw), but the intention is that, if a person has 3 or more dogs in a rural area, they will need to apply for a permit. One of our Animal Control Officers would do an inspection to make sure the property is safe and fit for three or more dogs.
To get an understanding of our current permit process, please refer to this document here.
Currently a permit application for Residential and Country Living zones cost $60. If the bylaw is adopted, it is proposed permits would be free of charge for the first 18 months to avoid disadvantaging our current dog owners in this situation.
The permit would then have the same cost as the current permit cost for multiple dogs.
We know the majority of people in our district are responsible dog owners and we don’t want to make it difficult for them, or to prevent people from having more than 2 dogs. But currently, we are unable to act if there are issues with housing and the health of dogs.
We cannot express strongly enough that the purpose of this proposed change is to protect the wellbeing of all dogs in our district, and this will give us the ability to act if there are issues of neglect.
This is also why we are proposing that permits would be free for the first 18 months if the Bylaw is accepted. This would give Animal Control time to visit the customers that are already in our district with more than 2 dogs.
You say this is to help deal with dogs being kept unsafely on rural properties. How will it do this?
If an owner has more than 2 dogs and does not have a permit, Council is able to take enforcement action for breaching the bylaw.
913 rural properties in our district have three or more dogs (excluding working dogs). They will be required to apply for a permit.
Yes, this is a one-off permit.
The permit only needs to be applied for once unless the following circumstances arise:
- The dog owner has more dogs than originally permitted for (or wants to hold more dogs than the current permit allows for)
- The dog owner has substantiated offences against the Dog Control Act and/or Bylaw and their permit has been revoked. In this situation, a dog owner can reapply for a permit after two years with no substantiated complaints.
It would depend on why they do not qualify. They may be given a notice of direction, outlining what they need to do to make the property suitable.
The permit may be granted for the number of dogs that the property is suitable for (not necessarily how many they want the permit for).
If the person is unable to gain a permit for dogs they already have due to substantiated complaints or living concerns, the dog owner will be given a timeframe to rehome or find other suitable arrangements for the dogs.
I don’t get along with my neighbours – can they stop me from getting a permit? Do I need their consent?
No, neighbours do not need to give their consent. When visiting a property for the purposes of the permit, our Animal Control team would look at the suitability of the property for the number of dogs which are intended to live there, including the proximity of the neighbours. For example, if someone wanted to have 10 dogs and the neighbour lived within 3 metres of the house in which the dogs were going to be kept, Council would have to take that into consideration.
If there is a history of substantiated complaints (i.e., investigations have been carried out and a nuisance was proven with evidence) then our officers may approach the neighbour to discuss the proposal. However, it is not intended that the neighbour be able to provide a ‘veto’ to any application without clear evidence.
FAQs about proposed changes to dog exercise areas
There are changes proposed to some of the dog exercise areas in Tuakau, Taupiri, Ngaruawahia, Newcastle, Raglan and Tamahere, as some of these are either sport fields, considered unsafe for dogs or located in busy areas.
To see where these dog areas are, and the reason for the proposed changes, please refer to the map or page 6 of the Statement of Proposal.
If the proposed bylaw and policy is adopted, there will be 22 off leash parks in our district.
A list of the proposed off leash parks can be found at the back of the proposed policy.
Why is Alexandra Redoubt Road considered a hazard when Centennial Park is much busier and is next to a 70km road?
Alexandra Redoubt Road is situated between two cemeteries and is alongside a road. The bush next to this area is a designated on leash area and is often baited for pest control.
We have proposed two ideas for dog parks in the Tamahere area. We are looking for submissions from the community to ascertain which one is more appropriate and will service the community better. We looked at several different options in the area, however these were the only two that were practically an option.
Every year our Animal Control team publish a report, with details about the number of dogs in our district, infringements, activities. You’ll find this here.
Council's Cemeteries Bylaw 2016 already prohibits dogs from entering our cemeteries. This was an opportunity to reflect this and have all information about dogs in one document. Animal Control have also had issues with people exercising dogs in the green space and dog faeces around and on cemeteries.