Nikki and Martin Steyn with their dogs Turbo, Skipper, Brandi and Peppa. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Council’s good owner policy gone to the dogs


Local dog owners have been hit in the pocket with an increase in registration fees, with some labelling the move as “frustrating and unfair”.

Nelson City councillors voted last month to scrap the Good Dog Owner policy as part of a range of changes to the dog control policy and bylaw.

This means 2240 dogs have seen a 45 per cent increase in their 2020/21 annual registration fees.

For Nikki and Martin Steyn, their bill has gone up more than $100 in just a year – they now pay $368.20 to register their four dogs.

Nikki says she has been a dog owner in Nelson for 25 years and has never received a complaint.

“We are good dog owners – we walk our dogs on the lead and we pick up their poo with our own bags. We don’t feel like we get anything for our money.”

The Good Dog Owner policy was introduced in 2013 and offered a discount to owners who met a range of criteria, including having a fenced property and paying their registration fees on time.

Council’s reasonings for the removal of the scheme is because it was costly to administer and implement, and they wanted to equally share the costs of dog control services across all owners.

Councillor Kate Fulton says the removal of the policy will result in a more equitable fee structure for all dog owners, where those who infringe against the Dog Control Act will pay a greater share of the costs.

“All dog owners in Nelson are expected to be good dog owners, and this incentive suggested that the cost of being an irresponsible dog owner was minimal. The subsidy for being a good dog owner is now spread across all registration fees, so everyone benefits.”

Good dog owners paid just $66.20 in 2019, but this year now pay the price of a standard registration, which is $95.80.

Nikki says she doesn’t mind paying an increase.

“But I don’t think we should pay the same as the people we see not picking up their poo and walking their dogs off-lead with no control. Why are we being charged the same as them?

“We all know, in reality, there’s not always going to be good dog owners.”

says she thinks an extra $10 per dog would be “perfectly reasonable” but to put it up $30 “is quite extreme” for ones that causes no problems.

Ninety-one submissions were made to council regarding the Good Dog Owner policy, with 87 of them opposing its removal.