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South Wairarapa planning to play it safe: Dog tags for life

Permanent dog registration tags may be on the cards for South Wairarapa, but council staff have recommended learning lessons from neighbouring Carterton District first.

South Wairarapa councillors are set to discuss a report on the Dog Tag For Life initiative today and have been presented with two options to consider.

The first option is to continue using the current system of issuing a coloured plastic strip tag annually, which attaches to the dog’s collar.

The second option is to use the Dog Tag for Life metal tags.

The staff recommendation is to maintain the current approach through to June 2025 and to “work alongside Carterton District Council to further evaluate implementation aspects of the Dog Tag for Life system from a lessons learned perspective”.

Under the current law, the issuing of a one-off lifetime tag is not in accord with the prescriptive process of the Dog Control Act, the report to councillors says.

This is because the Act says councils must keep “a supply of labels or discs numbered consecutively and marked with the name of the district and the year for which they are issued”.

The council must also “issue to the owner of the dog a receipt for the fee paid and a label or disc for the registration year”.

Any change to the current process would, therefore, place South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] “in breach of the law”, the report says.

Regardless, the Dog Tag for Life system has been implemented by six New Zealand councils: Christchurch, Wellington, Kāpiti, Hurunui, Gisborne, and Carterton.

The Department of Internal Affairs has noted it will not currently prosecute a council in the instance of not issuing new tags annually, as per the wording in the Dog Control Act.

Other than the legal issues identified in the report, the Dog Tag for Life product metal has been noted as being “thin and not robust” and may need strengthening to meet the intended longevity of 5-10 years.

Advantages of the system include less plastic waste and offering a long-term and more sustainable approach by the council.

It costs SWDC $750 for 4000 plastic tags, while the cost for 4000 metal ones would be $11,300.

The new tag IT system for the Dog Tag for Life initiative would also incur a cost of $1900. -NZLDR

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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