Menagerie of animal proposals up for debate

29 July 2016

Wellington City Council’s Environment Committee meeting next Thursday 4 August will consider a raft of recommendations stemming from public consultation earlier this year over possible rule changes affecting cats, dogs, roosters, pigeons, bees and other animals in the city.

The committee will consider amendments to the Wellington Consolidated Bylaw 2008 Part 2: Animals.

It will also consider recommendations from a review of the Council’s Dog Policy over the past year.

The committee’s Chair, Councillor Iona Pannett, says the Council received more than 750 submissions on the proposed animal rules and on proposed changes to areas where dogs can and can’t go.

“If we adopt these recommendations then Wellington will be leading the way nationally in striking a balance between the rights of pet owners and people who don’t own pets.”

Recommendations to the committee include:

Cats

  • All of the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 cats in Wellington City be either microchipped or wearing ID collars by the end of 2017.
  • No requirement to seek Council permission if an owner wishes to keep more than three cats.
  • No limits on cats in ‘sensitive areas’ – for example near Zealandia and bush reserves.

Dogs

  • Increasing access time for Wellington City’s 10,700 dogs to parks and beaches where there are summer restrictions in place, to better reflect the times when they are used by the wider public.
  • Making changes to some parks and dog exercise areas to reduce conflict between dogs and other park users whilst allowing dog owners to exercise their pets.
  • Easing restrictions on dogs in the CBD. Currently, owners are not allowed to ‘stop’ while leading a dog through the CBD. However, dogs would not be able to be left unattended in the CBD.
  • Clarifying that the Council can impose a $300 fine on owners who fail to pick up and properly dispose of dog poo. 
  • Making a portion of Island Bay Beach an off-leash.
  • Dogs to be allowed in Waitangi Park, on the Wellington waterfront, if they are on-lead. 
  • Continue to prohibit dogs on Oriental Bay, Freyberg, and Scorching Bay beaches. 
  • Recognition of the number of dog parks in Ngaio, and community desire to have at least one dog-free area. Silverstream Road Reserve in Crofton Downs would be removed as an off-leash area. 
  • The Council has allocated funds in the Long-term Plan to increase the number of fully fenced off-leash dog areas to four. 
  • Investigate the cost and feasibility of the installation of dog-poo bag dispensers and rubbish bins in fenced dog exercise areas.
  • Investigate the improvement of facilities at dog exercise areas, such as the introduction of agility equipment, off-leash tracks, seating, and partial fencing to improve the use of some areas. Funding for these ideas will be looked at in Annual Plan. 

Other animals

  • Ban roosters from urban areas unless you have permission.
  • Require Council permission to keep more than 12 poultry birds on a typical residential property.
  • Ban the feeding of animals (including pigeons and stray and feral cats) in public places, unless in a designated area such as a duck pond.

Summary

Cr Pannett says the number of submissions received in the past few months confirms to us what we all know – that people are passionate about cats and dogs and other animals.

“The general feedback is that we are on the right track with the proposed changes – there’s strong public support.

“The Bylaw and Policy aim to manage nuisance and to maintain and promote public health and safety whilst allowing owners to protect their pets as members of their families. .”

The proposed changes to cat management aim to protect domestic cats and encourage responsible cat ownership. An 18-month transition period is also proposed so that owners have time to ensure that their cat meets the requirements.

Education and other approaches are planned to tackle issues relating to ownership of multiple cats, and encourage responsible ownership of cats in areas with sensitive wildlife.

The committee’s decisions at next week’s meeting will be subject to confirmation at a meeting of the full Council on 17 August.

An Animal Policy will also be developed with the next 18 months to support operations and educate public to be responsible animal owners – the Council will seek community feedback at time.