Plenty in favour of dogs return to town

Should dogs be allowed in Raglan’s main street? Many locals think it’s time they were.

The Waikato District Council last week heard submissions on proposed changes to the Dog Control Policy and Bylaw, which would, among other things, maintain the current ban on dogs in Bow Street and extend it to Volcom Lane.

The council said 221 submission were received on the bylaw, raising issues about dangerous dogs, the control of dogs in public places, dog exercise areas and the impounding of dogs.

Submissions were received both for and against the Bow St and Volcom Lane bans, it said.
Karioi Lodge owner Charlie Young said he read through most of the submissions, of which about 40 or 50 were about Raglan. These submissions overwhelming supported a revision or removal of the ban.

Another local, Dave March, one of the 13 submitters who appeared before the Policy and Regulatory Committee, presented a petition on the issue.

“In Raglan, 800 people have signed a petition calling for dogs to be allowed in the CBD – that’s more people than voted at the general election the Raglan area. This is a significant majority. We have had encountered very little support for the current bylaw and its extension,” he told the committee.

He also mentioned another petition against the ban two years ago, which was signed by 600 people.
Dogs were currently prohibited on the main streets of Raglan, Ngaruawahia, Huntly, Te Kauwhata and Tuakau in the Waikato region.
The council said the ban of dogs in Bow Street was introduced in 2003 in response to multiple dog attacks in the main street, concerns about fouling on the footpath, congestion around eating areas and fears in the community about certain breeds of dogs.

Charlie said he did not recall any consultation with the community before the ban was introduced. But he remembered it occurred after a well-publicised dog attack on a little girl, which created a “knee jerk” crackdown on dogs throughout the country.

The dog ban was not good for Raglan, as it was overly restrictive on a large group of visitors. The town was particularly missing out on domestic travellers who wanted to visit Raglan and bring their dogs with them.
“Why are we saying ‘no’ to this big group of people?” Charlie asked.

The ban also made Raglan out-of-step with other New Zealand cities and tourist destinations.
“We’re about the only tourist town left that doesn’t allow dogs on leads [in the central business district],” he said.

Local nurse and dog owner Anna Dahlberg, who also made a verbal submission, said she was aware of suburbs in central Auckland, such as Remuera, which allowed dogs on leads in their CBD, with cafes even providing drinking bowls for dogs.

The current ban made it difficult for her to go into Raglan for shopping or to go to cafes. “Dogs in cars in the heat is a real no-no,” she explained.

The blanket ban on all dogs, because of the bad behaviour by a small minority of them, was not the answer. It was good for dogs to be out and about with their owners as bad behaviour was often the result of not being walked enough.
“Instead of taking dog walking areas away from us, give us more walking areas,” Anna said.

Dave March suggested to the committee that Raglan be exempted from the proposed Waikato-wide bylaw due to public opposition and the fact it was a tourist destination with a different demogarphic to the rest of the province.

He was meeting with the Raglan Community Board and a public workshop would also be held so the community could discuss alternatives, such as seasonal bans, to the blanket prohibition.

Dave asked that the committee either give the requested exemption or delay its decision until the community’s views had been aired at the workshop.

Committee members would meet again to deliberate before a final policy and bylaw was adopted at a full council meeting on April 13.

Rachel Benn

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