Rotorua Lakes Council to fine owners of unregistered dogs, offers last chance

6:28 am on 18 November 2023
All Rotorua dogs need to have an up-to-date registration tag.

All Rotorua dogs need to have an up-to-date registration tag. Photo: LDR / Andrew Warner

Hundreds of Rotorua dog owners face $300 fines as the council cracks down on residents "unwilling" to register their pets.

The district has more than 12,000 known dogs, Rotorua Lakes Council community and regulatory services manager Kurt Williams reported to a community and district development committee meeting last week.

The district's resident canine population typically grew by about 2 percent each year, and every dog needed to be registered with the council by 30 June.

Williams said despite two extensions to the payment deadline, the number of registrations decreased this year.

About 1660 dogs remained unregistered, up to 1000 more than at the same time last year.

The cost-of-living crisis, a 5 percent increase in annual dog registration fees, high deprivation levels and previous registration extensions provided through the Covid response, were all considered to be contributing factors, according to a report presented to the council.

Council officers could conduct door-to-door checks to make sure dogs were registered.

If owners were "unwilling", infringement notices were handed out and dogs could be seized as a last resort, Williams said.

The high number of unregistered dogs this year meant there were not enough resources to check each property individually, elected members were told.

After seeking legal advice, council staff would instead mail owners infringement notices of $300 per unregistered dog.

Owners would be offered 28 days to pay their outstanding registration and penalty instead, in which case the infringement notice would be cancelled.

Penalties normally applied after 1 August each year and cost the registration fee plus 50 percent.

An urban dog cost $115.50 to register, or $173.25 with the late penalty.

Williams said staff had tried to contact as many owners as possible to tell them to register.

To reduce the issue in the future, he said the council was looking at having only one tag for a dog's life and investigating direct debit options including part-pay options for the year ahead.

Dog registration covered the cost of 90 to 95 percent of animal control services, with the rest covered by general rates.

A council spokesman told the Rotorua Daily Post this week the organisation was in the process of preparing infringement notices, which would be sent out in the next one-and-a-half weeks.

He said the number of unregistered dogs whose owners would face fines may be lower than was presented in the meeting due to some being registered before the mail-out date.

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