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Whangarei's dog pound is set for a $239,000 upgrade. Picture/Michael Cunningham


Dog control is back on track



WHANGAREI'S much-maligned dog pound is set for a major upgrade after district councillors yesterday gave the $239,000 project the green light.

The Kioreroa Rd pound, operated by the Whangarei District Council's dog control contractor Environmental Northland, has been in the gun in the past year. About 10 unwanted or dangerous dogs are shot and dumped each week in pits on council land behind the pound, a practice which caused an outcry when it came to light. It left Environmental Northland with a $1000 fine for not having consent to dump the dogs. It also spurred the council to set up a Dog Control Review Committee, which made a raft of recommendations, including upgrading the pound.



Yesterday councillors received the committee's report and voted to proceed with the pound upgrade, as well as an auditing programme for the service. They also noted the steps already taken by Environmental Northland to implement recommendations in the report. A dog control focus group is likely to be set up and will look at other issues raised in the report.

Environmental services committee chair Councillor Crichton Christie said the council had lost focus on dog control.

"But the review brought it back into focus and we've got it back on track again," Cr Christie said.

"I think good has come out of that review. The contractor is enthusiastic about trying to work with council staff to move ahead on improving the services. This is a huge step forward."

Cr Sharon Morgan said Environmental Northland boss Keith Thompson should be complimented for the steps he had taken to improve the service. Cr Phil Halse questioned if the pound was in the right place.

"When we put it up it was quite isolated, but now it's surrounded by a lot of other businesses. Should we look at an alternative site?" Cr Halse asked.

But the council's environmental services manager, Paul Dell, said relocating the pound could cost between $750,000 to $1 million, and the pound's current site had a good 10 years' life left.

One of the major recommendations from the review was that dogs be euthanised, rather than shot, at the pound. However, that could add $3 to the annual $40 dog registration fee and is likely to be considered by a future dog focus group. The Whangarei District is home to about 9200 registered dogs, with another 5000 thought to be unregistered.