Continued complaints to Whakatāne District Council have prompted a reminder for owners to keep dogs on leads at all times, even as we enter Alert Level 3 next week. Manager Community Regulation, Graeme Lewer, says it is essential that dogs are on leads, including in exercise areas that would normally allow dogs to be unrestrained.

“We are still getting heaps of complaints from people whose bubbles are being broken from unrestrained dogs,” he says. “When you leave your property, make sure you restrain your dog – put it on a lead immediately. That way you have total control at all times, and you’ve minimised the risk of your dog breaking into other people’s bubbles.”

Mr Lewer emphasises the need to be vigilant and consider the impact of potentially spreading infection, especially to vulnerable members of our communities. “For example, if someone coughed on their hand, stroked their dog’s head and that dog ran up to a child who then stroked the dog’s head and touched their own face – that could transfer infection.”

He appreciates the challenges, but says infringement fines may be issued if owners continue to defy the rules. “I understand dogs have boundless energy and it might be tempting to let them burn off some steam,” he says. “But, please, it’s not worth jeopardising the effort our communities have put in during the past four weeks to help eliminate this deadly disease.”

If people have concerns about dog owners not adhering to the rules, they are encouraged to contact Whakatāne District Council on 07 306 500 to report the issue.

“Remember that nothing changes in terms of dog control when we move to Level 3,” says Mr Lewer. “Walk with your dogs on a lead, pick up after them and do not let your children touch other people’s animals while you are out walking. Stay in your bubble and stay out of trouble.”