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Source: Auckland Council

With warmer weather and longer days summer is a great time to head outdoors with your dog but expect a fine if you flout the rules, Auckland Council’s Animal Management’s Kerri Fergusson says.

On 1 November 2019, Auckland Council implemented changes to the Dog Management Bylaw, introducing consistency with rules across the region.

Kerri says one bylaw rule change was the implementation of a new summer season definition, allowing dog owners to spend more time with their pets at council-controlled public areas.

From December 1 to March 1 dogs are allowed at popular public places, including beaches and parks, up until 10am and after 5pm. No time rules apply outside of the summer season.

“Time and season rules are used in popular places, during busy periods to help maintain a safe environment for dogs and people,” she says.

“Dog owners still need to be mindful of others around them at all times and it’s imperative the rules are understood and followed as to avoid any form of incident and enforcement action, including infringements.”

A total of 197 infringement notices were issued to dog owners from November 1, 2019, to January 8, 2020.

Wandering dogs was the biggest issue, with 122 infringements sent out. Dogs off a leash followed, with 40 infringements issued, followed by 35 infringements for failure to control, each carrying a $300 fine.

Auckland Councillor and Regulatory Committee Chairperson Linda Cooper says the goal is for dogs to be a positive part of Auckland life.

We love dogs in Auckland – we have over 110,000 registered. It’s important that they are able to get out with their owners and enjoy parks and beaches together, while making sure that other people still have a good time in these places that we share as a community,” she says.

New bylaw signs are in the process of being erected across the Auckland region, with 33,000 signs due to be installed on 3300 beaches and parks.

Kerri says dog owners need to familiarise themselves with the council’s new Policy on Dogs 2019 and Dog Management Bylaw.

“Dog owners need to know what their obligations are and if unsure call us or check out the new bylaw rules on our website.”

Information can be found at aucklandcouncil.govt.co.nz or by calling 09 301 0101.

New bylaw rules explained:

Time and season rules

The definition of time and season has been standardised across the region making it easier for the public to know when and where they can take their dogs.

As of Friday 1 November, a new summer definition of 10am to 5pm from 1 December to 1 March was introduced in areas that already had a 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.

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

There is now a regionally consistent approach for dog owners to obtain a Multiple Dog Ownership License, standardising the approach so that anyone living in an urban residential area would need a license to own more than two dogs.

This replaces the differing rules that were in place across local board areas.

It 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 have been changes to the dog access rules for 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.

There are no 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).

Extension to protect flora

The Policy on Dogs and related bylaw allows for 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.

This rule 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.

Making it simpler for dog owners

In addition to the new policy, the council will also be changing the way that other information relating to dog access areas is presented so that it is clear and consistent across the region.

The council is reformatting the information is presented to list 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.

MIL OSI