Locals say underuse means a new dog pound cannot be justified. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

GEORGE SHIERS
george.shiers@age.co.nz

Unhappy locals have expressed concern with the proposed dog pound in Featherston, saying councils should reconsider a combined Wairarapa pound.

But South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] said a combined pound would come at a greater cost to ratepayers.

Greytown farmer and dog-owner Roger Barton said the current South Wairarapa pound was underused.

From January 2020 to March 2022, SWDC had impounded 136 dogs.

Just two dogs had been impounded this year.

Dog attacks on people were rare in South Wairarapa, with no reported attacks from January to March this year and nine attacks last year.

“A combined pound is the way to go in terms of value to the ratepayer, which should be the bottom line,” Barton said.

However, the council said the low numbers could be explained by covid-19 impacts resulting in more people working from home and reluctance to impound dogs due to the condition of the current pound, which was not up to welfare standards.

The proposed site for the pound would sit on land bought using money for water infrastructure and could be claimed by the government under the Three Waters reform in 2024.

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“Why are we spending $250,000 and administrative costs on top of that, on a pound that might need to be moved in two years anyway?” Barton said.

He questioned why both Masterton and Carterton were looking at building their own pounds rather than a combined pound for Wairarapa.

However, South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said in a council meeting earlier this week that the combined pound would have ended up costing more than a local pound.

“We were looking down the barrel at some unquantified costs and massive travel if we had gone with a combined pound in Masterton or Carterton.

“So if we can do this for what we’re planning, I think we’re very much the winner in our communities.”

A combined pound for all three councils was considered. However, SWDC advised Carterton District Council [CDC] last year that they would no longer pursue the joint project with both councils

In October, CDC voted to go alone and build their own pound, with a budget of $370,000.

At the time, Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he had had enough of discussions and wanted to move forward on the project.

“I’m going to be quite blunt.

“In 2014, we had these discussions [for a shared facility].

“It’s now seven years later, and every time we come to make a decision, we say we need to have more discussions.

“It’s a dog pound; we’ve all agreed to spend the money in the long-term plan – it’s sitting there to be spent.

“Let’s just get on with it and make a decision.”

Beijen said South Wairarapa needed a local pound. Although dog control officers were interacting with the public differently due to the covid-19 pandemic, dogs would still be picked up from time to time that would need to be housed.

“To be fair, we need to have the facilities of a pound. We can’t ignore the fact that we have to have something.

“If you look back at some of the other options, a combined pound with Carterton was going to cost us somewhere [between] $450,000 to $600,000, and we actually haven’t even got the figures on Masterton’s yet.”

Councillor Brenda West agreed that South Wairarapa needed its own pound.

“I do want this dog pound; I think the council does need a dog pound.”

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