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Bone of Contention

CAPTION: Some say the Featherston dog pound, situated at the Johnston St transfer station, is inadequate in today’s standards PHOTO/FILE

Rural ratepayers could be stung for third of new dog pound costs


By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Farmers say rural ratepayers are being unfairly asked to fund a new dog pound for Featherston – despite their dogs rarely ending up in the existing one.

As part of its annual plan 2017/18 consultation, South Wairarapa District Council (SWDC) asked ratepayers whether they supported the building of a new dog pound, as the present one was “no longer reflective of a modern facility”.

The proposed spend would be $120,000, with 70 per cent of the cost funded by licence fees, and 30 per cent funded through the general rural rate.

But Federated Farmers say all ratepayers should be accountable for the funding, not just rural.

Federated Farmers policy advisor Rhea Dasent gave a verbal submission on Wednesday at SWDC’s annual plan hearing.

She said on the whole, farmers valued and managed their dogs well, as it was in their best interests to do so.

“Dogs are part of the family, and a valuable asset to the farm business.”

Ms Dasent said farmers spent many hours training their dogs.

“Bad behaviour like being aggressive to animals or people is dealt with quickly.

“Farm dogs are contained in their kennels or chained up at night, and because of the large size of farms, dogs are contained on the property, they do not roam the streets, and barking rarely annoys the neighbours.

“If a dog does stray, neighbours are quick to recognise the dog and call the owner.”

Ms Dasent said with about 5846 ratepayers in the district, it would take just $6 from each to cover 30 per cent of the one-off cost of $120,000.

In his written submission to SWDC, Federated Farmers Wairarapa provincial president Jamie Falloon asked for justification behind the proposal which would see farmers foot a third of the bill for the new facility.

“A dog pound will not benefit rural ratepayers by a proportionate amount compared to other ratepayers of the district.”.

Mr Falloon said it made sense for licence fees to fund the majority of the project as dog owners would benefit most from the service.

The pound would also advantage the rest of the community, with dangerous dogs being impounded and removed from the streets.

Federated Farmers recommended that a district-wide targeted uniform charge was applied, meaning all ratepayers contributed to 30 per cent of the facility.

The proposed new dog pound would replace the current facility, situated amidst the recycling centre on Johnston St, which people in the past have said is inadequate for dogs with its stark conditions.

Forty-six submitters responded to the proposal in the council’s annual plan 2017/18 consultation document.

Seventy-four per cent were in favour of the proposal.

Of the eight rural ratepayers, four were against.

Dean Di Bona said the amount allocated to build the new facility seemed “extravagant”.

Wairarapa Whanau Trust were against the proposal, saying the money would be better spent on youth development and social health of the community.

Robyn Ramsden was in support of a new facility, and suggested it be built on the edge of the dog park and feature a dog washing pad.

Tracey Shepherd was against the proposal as the current facility met animal welfare standards, but suggested a fundraising venture could cover the costs of a “face lift”.

SWDC said the option of a centralised pound to service the entire region was being jointly investigated with Masterton District Council and Carterton District Council.

The council said the proposed spend was “significantly less” than what had been spent on new facilities elsewhere.

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