Monaco resident Chris Keay at the Monaco Reserve where residents hope to have a ban on dogs off their lead dropped. Photo: Jessie Johnston.

Petition to drop ‘stupid’ dog ban

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Nelson City Council is investigating a petition by Monaco residents to allow dogs on its reserve, after two residents were fined for having their dogs there off a leash.

Monaco resident Betty Watkins was at the reserve several months ago, exercising her neighbour’s dog, when control officers turned up and warned Betty for having a dog off a lead. The officer also issued a $150 fine to two other residents for the same infringement.

The complaint was made by a visiting mother, who was with her two children.

But Betty was furious and started a petition to allow dogs on the reserve and off the lead. She collected four pages of signatures and last month two other residents, Chris Keay and Lois Morgan presented the petition to the council.

Chris says the dogs are all well behaved and she was shocked that residents would be fined for having dogs on the reserve. “We as dog owners down here are very responsible and we always have our dogs on leashes when we go around the peninsula but when we get to the park we let the dogs off. There’s about half a dozen, they all get on well and it’s fine.

“We are very conscious about what’s going on. Not one of us would think about taking our dogs on the reserve if it was being used for a picnic or something like that. We are very responsible people here and we’re dog lovers.”
She says the complaint was “stupid”.

“It’s all happened because this one woman, who doesn’t live in Monaco, decided to have a whinge.”

Councillor Brian McGurk says a report on the reserve is due back in the next few months.

“We asked for a report from staff on our options. Until then I won’t comment too much, but there are a number of competing activities down there and I have a pretty open mind about the options.”

Chris says if the rule doesn’t change it will mean people like Betty won’t be able to take her neighbour’s dog for a walk. “Betty can’t take the dog for a walk on the lead because she has a zimmer frame. The council could quite easily fence off the playground, which isn’t a big area, or just make the whole area one of the parks in Nelson where dogs can be off the lead.”