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M I N U T E S
HDC Animal Welfare Advisory Group
Wednesday, 23 August 2017
Minutes of a Meeting of the HDC Animal Welfare Advisory Group held on
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 at 11.00am
Table of Contents
Item Page No.
HASTINGS DISTRICT COUNCIL
MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE HDC Animal Welfare Advisory Group
HELD IN THE Guilin Room, Ground Floor, Civic Administration Building, Lyndon Road East, Hastings ON
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 AT 11.00am
Present: Chair: Councillor Heaps
Kristine Jones (SPCA) and Jessica Maxwell (Watchdog)
IN ATTENDANCE: Community Safety Manager – (Mr J Payne)
Animal Control Manager (Ms L Hudson)
Secretary (Mrs Christine Hilton)
That an apology for absence from Mr Bergloff-Howes be accepted.
It was noted that Mrs Trina Bergloff-Howes, a fellow trustee of Adoptadog, had planned to attend the meeting as her husband was unavailable, but neither of them was actually able to attend.
2. Conflict of Interest
There were no declarations of conflicts of interest.
4. Confirmation of Minutes
There were no previous minutes to confirm.
The Community Safety Manager, Mr J Payne, addressed his report and updated the Advisory Group on the main points, which included:
· The number of complaints about roaming dogs were not out of proportion, given the total number of dogs in the district.
· Some areas tended to generate multiple social issues, including roaming dogs.
· Roaming dogs problems can be seasonal – e.g. in summer; or when more people are out interacting with dogs - generally during the holiday seasons.
· There are two different types of complaints:
v Current issues.
v Historical complaints.
· Roaming dogs problems can arise from bad dog owner behaviour; or a one-off mistake/situation enabling a dog to escape from a property.
· If dog owners do not know what to do to look after their dog, then Council won’t achieve a good result by the use of penalties. Council needs to address behaviours, rather than get more enforcement orientated.
· Addressing recidivist offenders.
· A similar approach needs to be taken – as used when addressing situations regarding barking dogs.
· Council Dog Control Officers are available to respond to emergency complaints 24 hours per day, 7 days per week in cases where roaming dogs are currently “at large” – if any of the situations set out in Paragraph 2.4 of the report apply.
· It was important to have this type of response in place - this level of response was mainly funded via dog registrations and rates.
· During 2016/17 there were 565 after hours call outs for roaming dogs.
· Wherever possible, Dog Control Officers tried to see how they can address a situation and help people to avoid their dog roaming – by taking the dog back to the owner and discussing issues with them, rather than having dog owners behave aggressively at the pound.
· Specific information was sought from complainants, as hearsay information was inadmissible if legal action was taken – and so Officers had a paper trail and did not need to involve complainants if legal action progressed.
· People making complaints were asked to take photos of the roaming dog (in a safe manner) so that an infringement notice can be issued.
· A “three strike” approach was in place, in regard to roaming dogs:
v First Complaint – “friendly” letter sent to owner and information brochure.
v Second Complaint – second letter sent setting out legal responsibilities.
v Third Complaint – trying to catch the dog and ascertain facts to use if legal action taken. Will write to owners and ask for explanation as to how this situation keeps occurring.
· The Council increases its Dog Control patrols in the areas where dogs have been seen roaming.
· The Council tries to avoid taking legal action too early in regard to roaming dogs - it was a costly course of action.
· If people defend their infringement notice they can represent themselves, rather than needing a lawyer. In those situations, the Council then has to file the infringement notice in Court ($30 each to file – approximately 600 per year are filed. Mostly for unregistered dogs).
· If the Infringement notice is upheld in Court, there is a $300 fine and court costs can also be awarded if the Court decides they are warranted. There is no conviction resulting from an infringement notice.
· Court hearings are an expensive course of action to pursue.
A) That the report of the Community Safety Manager titled “Roaming Dog Procedure” dated 23/08/2017 be received.
B) That the Animal Welfare Advisory Group supports the current “roaming dog” procedures with no modifications.
3. Consideration of General Business Items
The Animal Control Manager, Ms Hudson, reported on the current alteration work being undertaken at the pound – the addition of 14 more pens; and a cleaning bay to wash dogs available for adoption.
The Advisory Group members were invited to visit to see the changes at the pound.
Frequency of any further meetings and amendments to Terms of Reference
The Advisory Group felt that there was now a very good rapport between the members and Council Officers. The original reason for the formation of the Advisory Group had been resolved.
As a result, members were happy to reduce the number of regular meetings being held, to one meeting every six months. If any significant issues arose which warranted having an additional meeting, one could be held as required.
Between scheduled meetings, the members were happy to be advised of/to address any other matters that may arise, via email or phone as appropriate.
The Terms of Reference for the Advisory Group do not need to be amended to reflect this approach as the Advisory Group had the ability to hold its meetings on a scheduled basis as it may agree for itself.
A) That future meetings of the HDC Animal Welfare Advisory Group be held on a six monthly basis, with the ability to hold additional meetings as needed if a situation arises needing the attention of the Advisory Group.
B) That between scheduled meetings, any matters that may arise which do not need to be addressed at a meeting be dealt with via email/phone as appropriate, between Advisory Group members and Council Officers.
The next meeting of the Advisory Group will be held early in 2018, with the scheduled date to be confirmed in the New Year.
The meeting closed at 11.39am