They’ve got the most well-trained dogs in Marlborough, but even they disagree withÂ letting dogs back in Blenheim’sÂ town centre.
Marlborough dog trialists have expressed concerns on aÂ 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 beÂ made possible through theÂ lifting of the town’sÂ Dog Control BylawÂ during the 65thÂ Black Hawk National Dog Show in October 2019.
Dog trialistÂ FreddyÂ Gane said more than 90 per cent of pet dogs did not have priorÂ training or control, which could lead to dangerous situations.
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“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 dogÂ trialistÂ Don Stuart agreed, sayingÂ the town centre should be for people and shoppers.
Stuart said his main concern was thatÂ people would not picking up their dog’s droppings and make the central business districtÂ a mess.Â
“I don’t agree with it [the bylaw lift]. I don’t think there’s room … it’s notÂ necessary to have dogs in town,” he said.Â
“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.Â
“Blenheim just hasn’t got facilities in town for dogs, like having noÂ where to tie them up.”
But Scotch Wine Bar co-owner Dan GillettÂ said it was “not hard toÂ accommodateÂ 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 bowlsÂ for assistance dogs, who were exempt from the bylaw at present, andÂ would be happy forÂ other dogs to stop by during the trial.
Gillett said he thought allowing dogs back in the townÂ centreÂ was a “good idea”.
“EveryÂ other big town does it, likeÂ Auckland,Â WellingtonÂ andÂ Christchurch, and theyÂ do it successfully,” Gillett said.
“Dogs aren’t allowed in town at the moment, but if they’re allowedÂ in other, bigger towns, then it can be done here too.”
While the trial was approved at an environment committee late last month, the council hadÂ not decided how long it would run for.
Councillor Jamie Arbuckle, who chairedÂ the animal control sub-committee,Â said he would recommend the exemption runÂ 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.Â “People are not having to remember a specific date. The trial periodÂ would just startÂ onÂ OctoberÂ 1st and endÂ on October 31st.”
If approved, the recommendation would still need be referred ontoÂ the environment committee on JanuaryÂ 31Â for approvalÂ and adopted at full council on February 28 before going ahead.
An official restriction on dogs came into place in 2011, ending years of conflictÂ between the Dog Control Bylaw, which said dogs weren’t allow in Blenheim,Â 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 eachÂ decade, regardless of the original verdict.
It was hoped the upcoming dog trial would gauge the public’s stance on pooches in townÂ ahead of the Dog Control Bylaw’s review in 2021.
A poll run on Neighbourly showed 49Â per cent of its 129 participants did not want dogs in Blenheim’s town centre.
About 29 per cent of voters said they wouldÂ not mind if dogs were allowed in town, while a further 22Â per cent indicated theyÂ wantedÂ dogsÂ backÂ 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?Â It might be successful, but it might alsoÂ 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 patrolÂ during its duration.