Dog attacks increase, new council policy adopted

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A new dog bylaw for Queenstown will come into effect next week, in the wake of increased dog attacks and a contentious submission process.

Queenstown’s council approved a new dog control bylaw and policy at its meeting yesterday.

Many of the 98 submitters felt the bylaw and policy, as proposed, was too harsh, particularly where dogs were permitted on and off leashes.

In the end, the council backed off.

The Queenstown Gardens, Queenstown Hill, Queenstown Beach and all cemeteries, playgrounds and other public places were all designated as places where dogs were allowed on leashes.

Dogs were permitted off leashes in areas designated as “dog exercise areas” and the rural general zone – unless that area was a playground or cemetery.

Regulatory manager Lee Webster says while in the past financial year there has been a slight reduction in the number of complaints about roaming dogs, it remains the biggest issue – with 337 complaints.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of dog attacks on people – a 216 per cent rise from six to 19.

That’s reflected in a 137 per cent increase in the number of dogs classified as menacing, from eight to 19, and a 117 per cent increase in the number of infringements issued for dogs not being under control or confined, from 17 to 37, Webster says.

“When an attack occurs on a person or animal, the incident can be extremely distressing for all parties and it is imperative that there is a fast response to such matters.

“Over the last year, we have seen an increase in the overall number of attacks from 24 to 46, which has generated a significant demand for the animal control service, which has led to a corresponding increase in the number of dog classifications issued,” Webster says.

Of those 46 incidents, six occurred on council-controlled tracks or reserves where the dogs were not on leads.

While the number of registered dogs has increased only 4 per cent (146 dogs), the number of complaints have risen 21 per cent, from 743 to 900.

That can be attributed to the community acknowledging poor behaviour on the part of dog owners is not acceptable and reporting it to the council, Webster says. 

Otago Daily Times