Cats, dogs, pigeons and roosters – Council looks to community for views

14 March 2016

Consultation papers proposing reviews to the Animal Bylaw and Dog Policy will be put to Wellington City Council’s Environment Committee meeting on Thursday 17 March.

Dog with stick on a beach.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the Animal Bylaw and Dog Policy needs to be considered carefully.

The Mayor identified three aspects of animal ownership that come into conflict:

  • Most domestic pets are much loved household members
  • Some animal behaviour annoys other people, such as faeces on footpaths or gardens, crowing, or barking
  • Endemic wildlife is vulnerable to predators.

“We are a compact city with pride in our population’s capacity to coexist with burgeoning native birds and lizards.”

“Council has a role in identifying and reducing conflict between different species,” she says. “We have already had some discussion with organisations involved with conservation and animal welfare.”

The committee will debate drafts of both the bylaw and dog policy before going out to formal consultation.

A Wellington City Council survey carried out as part of a review of the Council’s Animal Bylaw and Dog Policy that determine the rules for keeping animals in Wellington, received 700 responses.

The survey found 97% of survey respondents agreed protection of wildlife was important and 95% of pet owners would take practical steps to stop their pets harming wildlife.

Mayor Wade-Brown says the survey is very informative and the Council wants to hear more about what people think during public consultation.

“Around half of Wellington households have pets so before any decisions are made about the potential changes to the bylaw we are encouraging the public to have their say on animal management,” she says.

The survey confirmed pets are an important part of many households. Of those who had pets, cats were the most common (35%), followed by dogs (19%) and chickens (5%). Other pets owned include a rooster, other birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, bees, fish and horses.

Cats are a popular animal with Wellingtonians, with 65% of the sample claiming to either like or really like cats. However, 45% of respondents dislike cat behaviours such as wandering, noise, faeces, digging and toileting in gardens and lawns, attacking and killing other people’s pets and wildlife, fighting, getting into rubbish, stealing property and producing unwanted kittens.

Environment Committee chairperson Cr Pannett says there are currently no specific restrictions on cat ownership in Wellington City.

“With the exception of a cat curfew, the majority of respondents supported introducing potential measures for cats,” she says.

“The current bylaw also lacks any restrictions on keeping roosters, yet more than 60% of respondents were opposed to having roosters living near them. Support for controlling feral pigeons was also indicated with more than 60% of all respondents reporting being bothered by pigeons in the last year.”

“We have been listening to feedback from the survey as well as from the wider community and have proposed changes. We want to ensure the changes we make reflect the feedback and to hear we have got this right” she says.

The Council is looking at introducing changes likely to impact a variety of animals. These include a clause stating cats must be identifiable as being owned, either by a microchip or collar. Permission may also be needed to keep more than three per household.

A new clause will also look at banning the feeding of animals including pigeons, unless in a designated area.

Roosters and poultry appear to be causing issues in some urban areas. To fix this, it is proposed that roosters will not be allowed to be kept in urban areas and permission will be needed to keep more than 12 poultry per household.

Dogs are currently not allowed to pause in the central city area. Proposed changes will make this clearer to say dogs are not allowed to be left unattended in a public place. Officers have also undertaken a review of the current 71 dog exercise areas across the city. New areas will be added, some modified, and a select few removed.

Public consultation on the Animal Bylaw and Dog Policy is expected to take place from 01 April – 02 May 2016. Details of public consultation will be posted on the Wellington City Council website, in the Wellingtonian and at local libraries and community centres.

The intention is for an updated Animal Bylaw and Dog Policy to be debated, consulted on, adopted and in force by September 2016.