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2019/2020 Dog Registration Fees

Wairarapa’s three councils finalised dog fees this week, decisions one councillor said that many people think is their ‘most important’.

STAFF REPORTERS

There is nothing like dog fees to get ratepayers nipping at the heels of Wairarapa’s district councils.

All three councils finalised increased fees for 2019/20 on Wednesday to cover the costs of new animal control facilities.

As South Wairarapa district councillor Colin Wright said, “many people think that the most important thing councils make decisions on is dog fees”.

Carterton’s fees have gone up by around $10, largely to cover a proposed new pound shared with South Wairarapa, though South Wairarapa’s fees have increased by only between $1 and $2, and Masterton’s by $1 or $4.

In public submissions, Dr Sharleen Forbes told councillors a decrease in spaces where dogs were permitted threatened their ability to socialise, important in developing good behaviour.

In a written submission, Federated Farmers opposed increasing fees.

“Instead of increasing dog registration fees, Federated Farmers suggests that impounding fees be increased.

“This places the burden of pound cost recovery on to irresponsible dog owners, rather than responsible owners.”

Carterton district councillors voted to adopt the new fee structure, pending approval of the annual plan, though some councillors were sceptical.

Cr Mike Ashby said increased fees would impact rural dog owners more than urban dog owners.

“The impact on Carterton’s rural area is significant and I feel it’s an urban issue. The facility relates more to urban dog owners.”

Infrastructure, services and regulatory manager Dave Gittings said rural dog owners in Carterton would not be impacted too harshly as the $10 increase only related to their first two dogs, and there would only be a $4 increase for any other dogs they owned.

Around a third of dogs taken to the Carterton District Council pound are from rural areas. PHOTO/CELIA JASPERS

“With growing lifestyle residents, it’s not just working dogs,” Gittings said

“We have more dogs from the urban areas [represented at the pound], but the rural areas take more time.”

He said in the past year, 79 dogs had been impounded – 26 of which were from rural areas.

Cr Brian Deller raised concerns about increasing fees before costings for the build had been finalised.

“I believe we can’t adopt a new fee structure when we are assuming what the new facility will cost,” Deller said. “It’s all up in the air.”

Chief executive Jane Davis said the fee change was a “procedural” matter and would be subject to confirmation of expenditure on the new facility.

She said Carterton’s fees were still competitive compared with the other districts.

A feasibility study is expected to be completed next month when decisions on the joint animal control centre will be finalised.

Masterton dog owner and Times-Age reporter Pam Graham took her non-neutered urban dog Milo, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, to the Masterton District Council meeting to ask that Responsible Dog Owner status be possible for entire dogs if they are suitable for it.

Under the proposed fees change, it will cost $136 to register Milo, which is more than the $120 registration fee for dangerous dogs.

The RDO status gives a 25 per cent discount on registration fees in Masterton – owners of entire dogs in Masterton are not eligible.

Dogs registered by the Wellington City Council are eligible and it would only cost $61.50 to register Milo there.

Graham said Milo needed to remain entire in order to enter championship all breed dog shows and though she wasn’t a breeder it was possible he would be bred from in the future.

She was told officials would look at the issue.