First fines for failing to register a dog

 Seventeen dog owners in the Hurunui District have been fined more than seven thousand dollars for failing to register their animals.

 It is the first time the Hurunui District Council has enforced infringement notices for non-registration. 

 Environmental Services Manager, Andrew Feierabend, says the laws around dog ownership are quite clear and the Council has quite simply run out of patience with owners deliberately trying to rort the system.

 “We made it clear at the time of registration that if owners refused to meet their legal requirements we would act as the law allows and seize their animal, impound it and fine the owner.”

The law requires everybody who owns a dog to register it with their local territorial authority before its three month birthday. Registrations are renewed on July first each year but owners are traditionally given a grace period until the beginning of August before any penalty is applied.

Until this year the Council has favoured sending owners a reminder followed by a penalty notice and second reminder, but moved to take a stronger stand on the issue after a noticeable increase in unregistered animals. 

Andrew Feierabend says while there are always some owners who accidentally miss the deadline, in more recent times the Council is finding more and more owners whose failure to register their animals is no oversight.

Over the past year up to four owners a month have been found with unregistered dogs.

“These owners have not simply forgotten to send in their fee and paperwork. These owners have never registered their dogs. In many cases we are only finding out the animals even exist during the normal course of our business, following up on noise complaints or through lost and found dog enquiries, for example.”

It costs $34.76 to register a dog (or $52.13 if the animal is classified as dangerous (with penalties the fee becomes $52.13 and $78.20 respectively).

Owners of multiple dogs can apply for a fee remission (which means they pay for a maximum of five dogs) BUT only once they have registered all their animals.  

The Council is also becoming fed up with owners failing to meet their responsibilities when walking their dogs, especially those not picking up after them.

Andrew Feierabend says there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of dog faeces being left in public places, and that simply is not on.

“It’s not hard to attach a plastic bag to the lead and use it to pick up your dog droppings and dump the whole lot in your rubbish bin on your return home to avoid others stepping into nasty little messes when they’re also out trying to relax and enjoy themselves.”

The Council is warning anyone caught not picking up after their dog may be ticketed and fined $300.00

As at the end of June there were just over five thousand dogs (5109) registered in the district to just over two thousand owners (2090). There were 5064 dogs registered to 2080 owners in the previous June.

14 dogs are categorised as menacing and one as dangerous, and are required to be restrained and muzzled in public and have a microchip planted.  (Dangerous dogs must also be neutered).

The Council’s Dog Control Contractor responded to 323 complaints about dogs during the 12 month period – two-thirds (217) relating to roaming or lost and found dogs.

During the same period the previous year there were 291 complaints – 181 for roaming or lost and found dogs.

Until June there were also:

50 complaints for barking (59 in 2008-09)

25 complaints for aggressive behaviour (35 in 2008-09)

11 for stock worrying, and

five relating to welfare issues (eight in 2008-09)

For further information contact:                

Andrew Feierabend  

Environmental Services Manager

Hurunui District Council

03 314 8816