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Christchurch City Council urged to take lead on beach dog problems

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 22 Nov 2022, 8:49am
Residents’ groups are concerned about dogs not being kept under effective control on eastern beaches. Photo / Star News File
Residents’ groups are concerned about dogs not being kept under effective control on eastern beaches. Photo / Star News File

Christchurch City Council urged to take lead on beach dog problems

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 22 Nov 2022, 8:49am

People are fed up with dog problems on beaches and are calling on Christchurch City Council to take the lead and solve them.

There have been seven complaints about dog attacks on other animals and five on people in the Greater New Brighton area between January 1 to October 31 this year.

Five of the 12 incidents happened on the beach and dunes at Southshore, New Brighton, North New Brighton and Waimairi Beach.

Residents’ groups are concerned about dogs not being kept under effective control on beaches. Photo / Star News File

Residents’ groups are concerned about dogs not being kept under effective control on beaches. Photo / Star News File

North Beach Residents’ Association co-chair Philip Ridge said there are now fears for the safety of young children.

Long-term New Brighton resident Brian Donovan agreed, citing an increase in unrestrained dogs on the beach.

He said the situation has worsened since Covid-19 “because when people were confined to their houses, New Brighton and the coastal areas were the destination points for them to get out and they often brought down their dogs”.

“But also ... with the population increases and more people living in the coastal area, there are more dogs. So the probability of issues like dogs being unrestrained on beaches increases.”

The city council has issued 762 infringement notices since January, 210 of which were to owners who failed to keep their dogs controlled or confined while 510 were for failure to register a dog.

Said Ridge: “There’s a communication gap as far as the city council is concerned and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.

“We believe it will be an important step towards addressing the dog control issues that we’re facing.”

Dog owners are failing to comply with the Dog Control Policy and Bylaw 2016 on beaches in the Greater New Brighton area, residents’ associations say.  Photo /  Google

Dog owners are failing to comply with the Dog Control Policy and Bylaw 2016 on beaches in the Greater New Brighton area, residents’ associations say. Photo / Google

At the latest meeting of the Waitai Coastal-Burwood-Linwood Community Board, Ridge asked members for their active support.

“What we’re simply asking from the board is you put us in touch with the senior staff [at the city council].

“Those who make decisions in terms of, for example, the website so those sort of issues can be addressed.

“It’s important to get the type of communications and message straight.

“And it needs to flow from the city council so you want consistency of messages.”

Dog owners are failing to comply with the Dog Control Policy and Bylaw 2016 on beaches in the Greater New Brighton area, residents’ associations say. Image: Google

The board requested city council staff provide advice on enforcement options for repeat offenders.

In September, a meeting between four residents’ associations - North Beach, Waimairi Beach, New Brighton and Southshore - plus the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust and the city council’s animal services team was held to address the issue of dog owners not complying with the Dog Control Policy and Bylaw 2016.

Said Ridge: “Most people who own a dog, unfortunately, don’t train their dog well. It’s tough work.

“There’s the need for more education and messaging to ensure that dog owners are at least aware of their responsibilities.

“The city council’s website will show you how to read to your dog, how to adopt a dog, but there’s actually nothing that says what you need to do in order to own a dog in Christchurch.”

To find out about your responsibilities as a dog owner, he said people should check the city council’s website.

The bylaw section lays out obligations for dog owners, including removing faeces in public places and keeping dogs under effective control.

“But most people aren’t interested in reading bylaws, so it’s a bit silly,” Ridge said.

Efforts to enforce dog control policies and bylaws on the Greater New Brighton area by the four residents’ associations go back to April when they presented a joint submission to the community board.

The submission marked an increase in dog owners exercising their dogs at the beach with a “sizeable” minority failing to follow the regulations.

Actions, including a targeted media campaign educating dog owners of their obligations; park rangers carrying out animal management officer duties; more prominent signage at beaches; and more frequent patrols are proposed.

Responding to the submission in July, city council animal services manager, Lionel Bridger, said campaigns have been running throughout the year on Newsline and social media, and that “[it] is an ongoing programme of work”.

Daily patrols are undertaken across the city based on the number of complaints.

Bridger said the proposal to warrant park rangers to act as animal management officers is possible but could become “problematic fairly quickly and present considerable risk to the organisation”.

The response prompted residents’ associations to request the meeting with the animal services team in September, as the associations maintained the steps taken were insufficient to address the growing issue.

Starnews.co.nz

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