Dogs will now be allowed into the Raglan central business area, after the Waikato District Council reversed its ban this week due to public pressure.
After hearing from members of the community, the council decided at a meeting on Monday to change its Dog Control Policy and Bylaw to allow dogs on the main streets of Raglan, Te Kauwhata and Tuakau, effective from May 1.
“Removing this rule was the result of a lot of community interest and we hope dog owners can continue to be responsible and respectful of everyone enjoying the main streets of these towns,” said council manager customer support Sue Duignan.
Dogs would have to be on a lead and not left unattended or tied up on the main street for more than a few minutes.
She said dogs were still prohibited on the main streets of Huntly and Ngaruawahaia, where the communities appeared to be happy with the status quo.
“We received a number of requests from the Raglan, Te Kauwhata and Tuakau communities asking for the ban to be removed. However, there were no requests from the Huntly and Ngaruawahia communities” Sue explained.
The council received 221 submissions about various aspects of the policy and bylaw, mainly concerning whether dogs should be prohibited from the main streets of towns.
David March was one of several Raglan residents who made a written and verbal submission to the council on the policy asking for a removal of the CBD ban on dogs. He also presented the council with a 800-signature petition to support his argument.
“The main part of our case was that prohibition affects all dog owners when 99 percent of dog owners are responsible,” David said.
He also felt the ban had meant Raglan was out of step with other towns and suburban centres around New Zealand and around the world.
The Waikato District had 13,615 registered dogs. Last month the council’s Animal Control team responded to 255 calls.
However, David said dog attacks could occur anywhere, and overall it was good for dogs to be with their owners in town: “Dogs tend to attack when they’re not socialized or are confined to a property.”
It was now up to dog owners to be responsible when in the main street with their pets.
“I guess they’re [the council] are placing the responsibility in the hands of dog owners, so it’s up to us to make it work,” said David, a dog owner himself.
The council planned to review signage around the district to ensure dog-prohibited areas, leash only areas and dog exercise areas were clearly marked, but said if dog owners were unsure, it was best to keep dogs on a leash.
David also suggested that some “poop bag” deposit bins may also need to be provided in the main street to help dog owners.
• In addition to the main street, dogs were also allowed on leashes on Cliff Street, on the southern half of Ngarunui Beach and around Papahua Point, near the Kopua footbridge.
• Free run areas for dogs included the beach behind the Raglan Kopua Holiday Park and Raglan Airport and the northern end of Ngarunui Beach – both excluding Ocean Beach – and the fenced dog exercise area in Wallis Street.