Tag Archives: responsible dog ownership

A soapbox moment

I hate seeing ads like this one, which appeared on the intranet site of a local (major) employer:

My 11 month old Bull Mastiff / Husky Cross needs a new home.  You would have to be a special owner to take him on – last night on our walk he killed a sheep and I cannot trust him now around my children and others.If you have the time and inclination (and love) to rehouse him, I would be very happy as my only other option is to put him down (as recommended by the Council).He is a lovely looking dog, tan coloured and handsome as and generally playful and kind and reasonably obedient – he is a puppy after all and still learning.

To me, it reads:

“I’ve taken responsibility for a puppy but last night he made a mistake and I don’t want to deal with it.  Therefore, I’m looking for a kind-hearted person to take pity on the dog because if you don’t, I’m going to kill it.”

(P.S.  I’ll probably get another dog after this one is gone and if it isn’t perfect, the same thing will happen to him.)

This is NOT responsible dog ownership.  A puppy is a life commitment and dedication and training are needed.

I’m a forever dog

Today I read (yet another) listing on Trade Me for a dog that is free to a good home.   His  family can’t give him the time and exercise he needs.  Dogs are a commitment requiring responsibility and accountability.   When will some people get that?

This poster from the Calgary Humane Society says it all:

The public relations nightmare of unscooped poop

Every sector has an issue that, if not managed, becomes its downfall.  In the dog world, I think this issue is poo.  More specifically, it is poo that is not cleaned up.

A woman complained in our newspaper recently about the amount of dog poo that had not been picked up at a local dog park. I have been at our dog park and watched as dog owners conveniently ‘don’t see’ their dog do a poop.  Even less common (and perhaps something to do with kiwi culture?), are the other dog owners who see it but do not bring it to the dog owner’s attention.   I have found that most dog owners are embarrassed and very willing to clean up when the fact of the dog’s neglected poo is mentioned.

In Poole (UK), the local council has resorted to more overt tactics to get dog owners to recognise the errors of their ways.  They spray paint piles of poo green to highlight the scale of the problem.  It was reported that 200 piles of poo were found in one street alone.[1]  The painting campaign augmented other initiatives such as a crackdown by council officers in issuing fines.

In New Zealand, we have the benefit of a lower population density but that should not make us complacent about this problem.  Cities such as Auckland and Christchurch are actively encouraging infill housing and more urban development to stop urban sprawl.  Over time, people and dogs will be living much closer together.

We need to find ways to peacefully co-exist with one another; and leaving faeces for people to step in is not one of them.  There are also indications that dog waste contributes to water pollution through runoff.

Since August 2009 (when most supermarkets began charging for carry bags) free bags are harder to come by.  Our dog park has posted at least one plea for urgent bag donations.  However, is the lack of a plastic bag an adequate excuse for not cleaning up after your dog? 

There are plenty of other sources of bags and responsible dog owners always have a supply, even in the glove box of the car. Ask your non-dog-owning friends and co-workers to save bags for you.  Bread bags and produce bags work just as well as carry bags.  As a last resort, a roll of freezer bags will set you back a couple of dollars at the supermarket.  The last roll I purchased allowed me to pick up no less than 60 piles of poo!

It is very concerning to see the evidence of dog owners who are not cleaning up after their dog.  It gives all of us a bad name.  If your dog could talk, I wonder if they would say, “I poop.  You pick it up.  Any questions?”[2]

[1] BBC News, August 2010

[2] Puget Sound Starts Here campaign poster (Washington, USA)

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Dogs run amok?

Dogs run amok | Canterbury News | Local News in Canterbury.

This article was published in the Monday 27th February 2012 edition of the News Advertiser.  I wrote to the reporter, Anna Turner, today because the article encourages you to “Have your say” at the end but only encourages submissions from those who have had problems with dogs (not cyclists) on the shared path.

I wrote:

Dear Ms Turner,

For the record, the pathway from Northlands Shopping Centre to Mona Vale is not a cycleway – it is a shared corridor for use by cyclists, pedestrians and dog walkers.  As a shared space, it is essential that all users are polite, respectful and allow safe passage to other users.  It is unfortunately true that some dog walkers do not have their dogs under effective control (which can be on lead or off lead, if the dog is suitably trained).  To encourage responsible dog ownership, I favour a system where the offending dog owner is required to attend dog training (rather than a spot fine).  This would be a similar system to when drink drivers are required to attend alcohol education.

The pathway also needs a monitored speed limit for cyclists and a requirement for them to ring a bell or sound a horn when they are approaching pedestrians/dog walkers from behind.  You cannot hear a cyclist coming up behind you and they speed around you frightening both you and your dog (even a dog under effective control will respond if they are suddenly scared or threatened).  The cyclists using this pathway often use it as a speedway to get them from Point A to Point B and show little regard for anyone on foot (regardless of whether they have a dog or not).

And what can we learn from these types of conflicts?  The need for better urban design.  The proposed Otakaro green space along the Avon River presents us with an excellent opportunity to design an open green space for cyclists and dog owners plus other walkers who want to be dog-free in a seamless design.  There are examples from overseas about such design.  Sadly, when an overseas expert on dog-friendly design visited the city last year, not a single community board or city council representative attended his public talk. 

Your newspaper would serve our community better by investigating issues more thoroughly and reporting them in a balanced way rather than going for the inflammatory headline.  Please contact me if you’d like more information about urban design, responsible dog ownership and other issues facing dog owners.

I then got this reply from Ms Turner:

Hi Kathleen,

 If you read the story it says several times that this is a shared cycleway/walkway. You’ll also see that Mr Talbot acknowledges that some cyclists should monitor their behaviour as well.

And then I wrote back to say:

Hello Anna,

First impressions count.  The headline on the front page is “Dogs run amok” and the headline on page 3 is “Dogs running rampant on narrow cycleway”  (not narrow shared path)

My point is that you should encourage submissions about cyclists as well as dogs and take some time to investigate the issues of better urban planning so that all users can peacefully co-exist .

And her final reply said:

I’ll pass on your comments to the subeditors who write the headlines, I have no part in that.

Thanks for your input

Is this a case of buck passing?  It sounds like it to me.  How do we get our journalists to be more receptive to issues facing urban dog owners – that we need to encourage responsible ownership but at the same time provide facilities for them?

Are speeding cyclists not newsworthy?

Responsible dog ownership – what does it mean in your town?

The 1st of July will mark the start of a new financial year for many towns and here in Christchurch it means that dog registrations must be paid for another year.

Christchurch encourages responsible dog ownership by offering certified responsible dog owners a dramatically reduced registration fee.  For a spayed or neutered dog, the fee drops from $76.00 to $53.00.  Second and subsequent dogs at the same residence can be registered for only $37.00 each.

What does it mean to be a responsible dog owner? 

Dog owners must apply to the council to be granted responsible dog owner status.

Applicants for Responsible Dog Ownership status sign an application form stating that they have and will continue to meet all the following conditions and requirements listed below:

(a) No dog owned by the applicant in the last two years has:

(i) Been impounded, chased or returned home by Council Dog Control staff.

(ii) Been the subject of any bona-fide complaint.

(iii) Been issued with an infringement notice for any dog related offence.

(b) All dog registration fees have been paid for the past two years by the due date.

(c) The applicant has not been prosecuted, nor issued with an infringement notice, for any dog related offences.

(d) Any information regarding the purchase of, death, sale or transfer of dogs to and from the applicant’s property, including movement of any pups born on the premises, shall continue to be promptly notified in writing to the Council.

(e) The applicant’s property is suitably fenced and gated to ensure it is dog-proof.

Dog free access to a door of the dwelling is provided for authorised callers.

(The Council reserves the right to carry out random property inspections to ensure compliance.)

(f) All dog(s) owned or kept by the applicant will be controlled in accordance with the Dog Control Act 1996 and with current Council Dog Control Bylaws.

(g) The applicant has been a recorded dog owner and resided within the Christchurch City Council area for at least 12 months. If an owner has not been a recorded dog owner and resided in Christchurch City for at least one year but can produce written evidence that they have had a classification with criteria similar in most respects to those included here in another territorial authority they may be considered to have fulfilled this condition.

(h) Any faecal matter (droppings) deposited by the applicant’s dog(s) in any public place or on any land other than that occupied by the applicant will be removed forthwith and deposited in a suitable receptacle.

(i) Any change of residential address within the city shall be notified in writing to the Council within 14 days.

(j) The applicant understands that any breach of the above conditions will lead to the immediate cancellation of privileges under this policy.

(k) The applicant is aware that the granting of this application does not relieve the applicant from payment of the full dog control fee.

If the dog owner breaches the rules in any way, they can lose their Responsible Dog Owner status for a period of two years.

What does your town do to encourage responsible dog ownership?

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand