Saturday, 15 December 2018
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Pack split over whether dogs in Blenheim’s town centre is brilliant or barking mad

They’ve got the most well-trained dogs in Marlborough, but even they disagree with letting dogs back in Blenheim’s town centre.

Marlborough dog trialists have expressed concerns on a trial designed to test out whether man’s best friend should be allowed back in town, saying pet dogs often aren’t well trained.

The controversial trial will be made possible through the lifting of the town’s Dog Control Bylaw during the 65th Black Hawk National Dog Show in October 2019.

Dog trialist Freddy Gane said more than 90 per cent of pet dogs did not have prior training or control, which could lead to dangerous situations.

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Dog trialist Freddy Gane with his sheep dogs Chief, in front, and Bee.


Dog trialist Freddy Gane with his sheep dogs Chief, in front, and Bee.

“They’re stuck in a small section at home, and being in town would put them around other external influences they’re not use to, such as children,” Gane said.

“A child could be used to a nice dog and approach one to go up and pat it without thought, when it might not be a nice dog.”

Veteran dog trialist Don Stuart agreed, saying the town centre should be for people and shoppers.

Stuart said his main concern was that people would not picking up their dog’s droppings and make the central business district a mess. 

“I don’t agree with it [the bylaw lift]. I don’t think there’s room … it’s not necessary to have dogs in town,” he said. 

“Sheep dogs are different from pet dogs. They’re better trained. Not a whole lot of sheep dog owners would take their dogs into town. 

“Blenheim just hasn’t got facilities in town for dogs, like having no where to tie them up.”

But Scotch Wine Bar co-owner Dan Gillett said it was “not hard to accommodate dogs in town” as it was “pretty easy” for businesses to install dog-friendly facilities.

He said Scotch Wine Bar offered leash holders and water bowls for assistance dogs, who were exempt from the bylaw at present, and would be happy for other dogs to stop by during the trial.

Gillett said he thought allowing dogs back in the town centre was a “good idea”.

“Every other big town does it, like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and they do it successfully,” Gillett said.

“Dogs aren’t allowed in town at the moment, but if they’re allowed in other, bigger towns, then it can be done here too.”

Dogs were prevented from entering Blenheim's central business district in 2011.


Dogs were prevented from entering Blenheim’s central business district in 2011.

While the trial was approved at an environment committee late last month, the council had not decided how long it would run for.

Councillor Jamie Arbuckle, who chaired the animal control sub-committee, said he would recommend the exemption run for the month of October at the committee’s next meeting in December.

“That way it will be easy for people to remember, and easy for us to administer,” he said. “People are not having to remember a specific date. The trial period would just start on October 1st and end on October 31st.”

If approved, the recommendation would still need be referred onto the environment committee on January 31 for approval and adopted at full council on February 28 before going ahead.

Councillor Jamie Arbuckle and Blue at the Market St sign which bars dogs from entering Blenheim's town centre.


Councillor Jamie Arbuckle and Blue at the Market St sign which bars dogs from entering Blenheim’s town centre.

An official restriction on dogs came into place in 2011, ending years of conflict between the Dog Control Bylaw, which said dogs weren’t allow in Blenheim, and the Dog Control Polity, which said they were.

Arbuckle said while there were “some good views” put forward when the bylaw was first discussed seven years ago, council policies required bylaws to be review each decade, regardless of the original verdict.

It was hoped the upcoming dog trial would gauge the public’s stance on pooches in town ahead of the Dog Control Bylaw’s review in 2021.

A poll run on Neighbourly showed 49 per cent of its 129 participants did not want dogs in Blenheim’s town centre.

Mikey, a collie-whippet cross, down by Taylor River.


Mikey, a collie-whippet cross, down by Taylor River.

About 29 per cent of voters said they would not mind if dogs were allowed in town, while a further 22 per cent indicated they wanted dogs back in Blenheim.

“From my point of view, it’s a contentious issue. But, at the end of the day, the committee will make the final decision. The more information we have, the better,” Arbuckle said.

“Who knows what will happen in the trial period? It might be successful, but it might also be a disaster and reminded us why we have the bylaw in place.”

Once completed, the council would judge the successfulness of the trial based on input from business owners, the public and animal control officers on patrol during its duration.

Walkers and their dogs along Taylor River, near Blenheim.


Walkers and their dogs along Taylor River, near Blenheim.


The Bark Box

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