Clarification of the definition of control.

Karen Anderson made this Official Information request to Dunedin City Council

Response to this request is long overdue. By law Dunedin City Council should have responded by now (details and exceptions). You can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: Karen Anderson

Dear Dunedin City Council,

My preference is to receive the requested information by email.

The report of the Chairperson of the Dog Control Working Party states:
"The following paragraphs have been added to the education page:

When is your dog 'under control'?
A dog is considered ‘under control’ if it is on a lead held by someone able to control the dog. For example, a large dog would not be under control if its lead was held by a child who would be unable to restrain the dog if it strained against the lead.

It isn't necessary for dogs to be leashed at all times. However, dogs must be kept on a lead in designated pedestrian zones and on land where livestock is present. The Council’s Dog Control Bylaw shows the areas where leashing is required, such as in public parks.”

In fact the defintion added to the education page has a different second paragraph and says:
"It isn't necessary for dogs to be leashed at all times. However, dogs must be kept on a lead in designated pedestrian zones and on land where livestock is present. Councils have by-laws to show the areas where leashing is required, such as in public parks."

Leaving aside this appears to be if the nature of a description rather than a defintion, this definition was stated to have been obtained from an informational page on the website of the government of Ireland, being a different country that does not have the same statutory framework as New Zealand.

Accordingly I have been requested by members of the Dunedin Dog Bylaw Group to ask:
(a) Why a definition of “control” has been obtained from an informational page on a website from a different country when the definition is not the same (and is almost opposite) to New Zealand law.
(b) Why the DCC states a dog is only considered to be under control when it is on a leash, but immediately afterwards states a dog does not have to be under control (leashed) “at all times” despite the Dog Control Act 1986 requiring dog owners to keep their dog under control at all times so this information appears to incite dog owners to breach the Dog Control Act 1996.
(c) What is a “pedestrian” zone, and when dog owners will be notified where these designated pedestrian zones are given this designation does not appear in any other documentation, and especially does not appear in the Bylaw maps. (It is accepted the term is used on the Irish website, however that does not apply because it is a different country.)
(d) How the DCC intends to reconcile this definition with the Bylaw which permits dogs off-leash in certain areas given this definition means that doing so would be considered by the DCC to be a breach of the Dog Control Act 1996.
(e) What other Councils are being referred to, and given dog control policy and bylaws only apply within the area of the relevant local authority, how that applies to the defintion of control for the purposes of compliance with DCC policy and bylaws.

Yours faithfully,

Karen Anderson

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Karen Anderson left an annotation ()

Information relating to this request was eventually provided on 8 March 2019, directly to my personal email address instead of through fyi.org, included in a lengthy document dealing with a large number of other equally late requests.

a) Why a definition of “control" has been obtained from an informational page on a website from a different country when the definition is not the same (and is almost opposite) to New Zealand law.
"The wording that you refer to is on the ‘Dog safety education’ web page of Animal Services. It is not a definition of ‘control’ but is there as general information to guide dog owners."

b) Why the DCC states a dog is only considered to be under control when it is on a leash, but immediately afterwards states a dog does not have to be under control (leashed) “at all times" despite the Dog Control Act 1996 requiring dog owners to keep their dog under control at all times.
"This paragraph was shared with the Dog Control Working Party prior to it going on the Animal Services webpage, and these concerns were not raised. As discussed at the time, there is no definition of “control" in the Dog Control Bylaw 2016, and for this reason we placed this paragraph on the Educational page merely as a general guide. The last sentence points the reader to the Bylaw to check what areas leashing is required."

c) What is a “pedestrian” zone, and when dog owners will be notified where these designated pedestrian zones are given this designation does not appear in any other documentation, and especially does not appear in the Bylaw maps.
"As outlined above, this is a general guide for dog owners to be mindful in areas that are only for pedestrians such as on public footpaths. This paragraph was shared with the Dog Control Working Party prior to it going on to the DCC webpage, and these concerns were not raised."

d) How the DCC intends to reconcile this definition with the Bylaw which permits dogs off-leash in certain areas given this definition means that doing so would be considered by the DCC to be a breach of the Dog Control Act 1996.
"This is not a definition."

e) What other Councils are being referred to, and given dog control policy and bylaws only apply within the area of the relevant local authority, how that applies to the definition of control for the purposes of compliance with DCC policy and bylaws.
"This is only a guide / suggestion for dog owners to check their local bylaws. No particular Council is being referred to."

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