Coun­cil to re­write dog by­law

The Bay Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BAYLEY MOOR

The Far North District Coun­cil has an­nounced it will re-write its con­tro­ver­sial dog by­law fol­low­ing a ‘howl of protest’.

Dog lovers ral­lied against a draft ver­sion of the by­law which pro­posed re­duc­ing the num­ber of per­mit­ted dogs per house­hold, and greater re­stric­tions for of­fleash ex­er­cise ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly in the Bay of Is­lands ar­eas of Rus­sell and Opua.

The harsher ver­sion of the by­law dif­fered from the previous one con­sulted on by dog own­ers, prompt­ing the for­ma­tion of ac­tion group Bay of Is­lands Watch­Dogs to fight the new by­law.

The group’s mem­bers sent dozens of emails and letters to coun­cil staff mem­bers and elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and gath­ered more than 100 peo­ple at a com­mu­nity board meet­ing, in what group spokesper­son Leonie Exel de­scribes as a ‘‘howl of protest’’.

Fol­low­ing the Au­gust 14 com­mu­nity board meet­ing where coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Shaun Clarke said rewrit­ing the doc­u­ments fol­lowed by a new round of con­sul­ta­tion, was off the cards, mayor John Carter says that is ex­actly what the coun­cil will now do.

Coun­cil com­pli­ance man­ager Dar­ren Ed­wards will now lead the process, and Carter says the coun- cil planned to en­gage with a work­ing group made up of mem­bers of the Watch­Dogs, the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, and iwi be­fore new doc­u­ments are re­leased for con­sul­ta­tion for reg­is­tered dog own­ers.

‘‘Af­ter the [ini­tial] con­sul­ta­tion was done, changes were made which turned out not to be a re­flec­tion of the com­mu­nity’s wishes.

‘‘We learnt an in­valu­able les­son.’’

Carter says the aim is to ‘‘end up with a by­law that is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the needs and wishes of the com­mu­nity’’.

The new draft by­law would be re­leased, once the coun­cil and the work­ing group were happy, to all known dog own­ers through the coun­cil’s data­base and via Face­book, Carter says.

Exel says the group are re­lieved the previous process had been halted, with a new one start­ing. ’’We are re­lieved to get the op­por­tu­nity to be con­sulted and we are hope­ful the next draft will re­flect a more pos­i­tive view on dogs and dog own­ers and a more col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach be­tween dogs, hu­mans, wildlife and tourists liv­ing hap­pily to­gether in North­land.’’

The Bay of Is­lands Watch­Dogs are re­lieved the dog by­law will be re­vis­ited by the coun­cil.

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