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Dogs will have their stay

A popular summer South Wairarapa camping destination will allow dogs on site this summer, despite concerns from council dog control officers and a councillor.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] made the decision at its meeting on Wednesday [27 September] to allow dogs at Ngawi campsite until Easter, with a report to be prepared at that stage.

The council had previously heard an official’s advice that, with only two full-time dog control staff and a large area to police, there are insufficient resources to properly manage issues that might arise at the remote campsite.

Ngawi is 136km from Wellington, 110km from Masterton, and 63km from Martinborough.

Councillors Pip Maynard and Alistair Plimmer voiced concerns about the move.

Maynard noted Ngawi ratepayers had previously asked that dogs be disallowed from the campsite but were now asking the opposite.

“I think we really need to monitor what happens in that space to ensure we are doing the right thing,” Maynard said.

Plimmer said children could be at risk of getting bitten.

“It is a particularly horrid time when a dog bites someone at campgrounds where families go.”

He said this is particularly so with children and small babies onsite.

“It is just a recipe for disaster,” he said.

“Everybody loves their dogs. I’ve got two dogs. But in a campground where there are lots of people and lots of little kids, you are now saying, ‘Let’s put dogs into that mix’. And that is just madness. Sooner or later, one of these little kids will get bitten, and it doesn’t matter how big the dog is.

“I can tell you having been bitten by a small dog, it still hurts.

“If you vote for this, are you going to be the person who is going to stand in front of the mother and say, ‘Oops, sorry’?” he asked.

Plimmer also referenced the dog control officer’s concerns.

“Our enforcement officers are only working from nine to five. So we don’t have any after-hours coverage on this at all. This is an isolated community. It’s just madness what you are proposing here, and for what benefit?”

Councillor Colin Olds said he took on board Plimmer’s concerns but asked to what extent the council should “wrap people up in cotton wool” in relation to dogs.

“Do we ban dogs from the entire district?” he asked.

“There are some pretty irresponsible dog owners out there, I have no doubt about that at all.”

After further discussion, SWDC agreed to amend the current regulations to allow dogs at Ngawi Campsite [known as Ngawi Reserve] as a trial until Easter.

The discussion and decision were part of SWDC’s adoption of its dog control policy.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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