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Animal ControlMana Whakahaere Kararehe

Council administers the Dog Control Act 1996 and relevant bylaws, which require dogs to be registered, cared for and kept under proper control. Dog Control responsibilities mostly entail investigation of complaints about unregistered dogs, nuisances caused by dogs (eg, barking), and aggressive behaviour by dogs towards people, stock, and domestic animals. The aim is resolution of such complaints through education and, where necessary, enforcement. Annual property inspections are also undertaken to ensure animal welfare, to check registration and to update owners on any changes to legislation.

Council currently leases one dog pound.

Under Section 52 (A) of the Dog Control Act 1996, owners are responsible for keeping their dog under control at all times. Failure to comply is an offence with a fine of up to $3000 or an infringement fee of $200. This means controlling dogs on private property within physical limits (fencing, kennels, indoors), or by command and on a lead in all public areas.

Animal Control Officers and Administration staff are located in the Council Building on Queen Street.

Dog Care

Under Section 54 of the Dog Control Act 1996, owners must ensure their dog receives proper care and attention.

This means adequate food, water, shelter and exercise. Failure to comply is an offence. Upon conviction: a fine of $5,000 or imprisonment.

After Hours & Emergency Contact

You can contact Council 24/7 if you want to tell us about roaming animals or any other animal related incidents. Just give us a call on the number provided below.

To find out more about what to do if you or someone you know has been attacked by a dog, please visit the 'Reporting a Dog Attack' section of this page.

+64 6 838 7309 (24/7)

Dog On/Off Lead Areas

Prohibited Areas

All dogs with the exception of Disability Assist Dogs are prohibited from the following areas:

  • All school grounds throughout the district
  • All pre-school/kindergarten/early childhood centre facilities throughout the district
  • All playgrounds throughout the district
  • All sports facilities throughout the district
  • Wairoa District Council buildings
  • Any other areas as that Council deems necessary, either permanently or temporarily, and which will be publicly notified and sign-posted accordingly.

On-Lead Areas

Dogs shall only be allowed in the following areas while under continuous direct physical control by its owner or responsible person by way of an effective lead or being carried in a vehicle while tethered to the vehicle.

  • Streets within any residential or commercial area and all public places within these; and,
  • All public parks, carparks, public reserves and parts of parks and reserves under the control of Council which are neither prohibited areas, or off lead areas.

Off-Lead Exercise Areas

The following areas are designated off-lead exercise areas:

  • Private properties with suitable means of containment of the dogs;
  • Old landfill site at Fraser Street;
  • Whakamahia Road reserve from the end of the limestone walkway to the estuary excluding the DOC land that is fenced off; and,
  • Pilot’s Hill reserve.

This map shows the designated off lead areas for dogs according to Wairoa District Councils Dog Control Bylaw.

Reporting a Dog Attack

In the unfortunate event of a dog attack please seek immediate medical attention.

Even the smallest bite can transmit serious viruses or bacteria. 

It is advised to complete the dog attack complaint form within 24 hours after the incident. Completing the form while your memories of the incident are still fresh enables our dog control officers to gather as much detail as possible and take appropriate action.

How to report a dog attack

The preferred method of reporting a dog attack is by completing the our complaint form below. 

  1. Download, print, fill in and submit the the complaint form below.
    Download Complaint Form

    Submit via e-mail, drop the form off at the Council offices on Queen Street or post to:

    Wairoa District Council

    Attention: Compliance Team 
    PO Box 54
    Wairoa 4160

Dog Owner's Statement

If your dog was involved in an attack on either a person or another animal you are able to make a statement. The purpose of this is for the Animal Control staff and/or the police to gain all the information about the attack to then take appropriate action.

How to make a statement

The preferred method of making an owner's statement is by completing the form below.

  1. Download, print, fill in and submit the the statement form below. 
    Download Statement Form

    Submit via e-mail, drop the form off at the Council offices on Queen Street or post to:

    Wairoa District Council

    Attention: Compliance Team 
    PO Box 54
    Wairoa 4160

Animal Control - Infringement Objection

Animal Control - Infringement Objection downloadable form

Barking Dogs

Causes And Corrections

All dogs bark; it is part of their natural communication and behaviour and there are many reasons why dogs bark. Before we can attempt to reduce or eliminate any nuisance barking, we must first understand what is causing our dog to bark. This brochure is designed to help you identify what is causing your dog to bark and how we can reduce or control it.

We generally encourage this as we want our dog to warn us of any danger i.e. intruder or stranger. Dogs that bark at the postie, joggers or cyclists on the street will have their barking reinforced by the very action of these people leaving. The dog will think to himself “what a good job I have done making them go away” so the very action of these people leaving has reinforced the dog’s behaviour.

If we want the dog to act in this manner, we must be able to command the dog to stop as soon as we are aware of the threat. If we ignore the barking until it annoys us, the dog will learn that short barking will not gain attention but long extended barking will.

This can start with alert type barking and then progress to fear barking as the stranger approaches. If your dog is barking out of fear, you must stop it by making the dog focus on you, and when the barking stops give a command and reward the dog when it is relaxed.

Over a period of time (days or weeks), have people approach the dog to a point where it remains relaxed, and reward the dog. As people come closer, have them reward the dog by feeding tit-bits.

Dogs soon learn that barking attracts our attention. A command of NO is still attention, even though negative. Stop the dog's barking by startling it, shaking a plastic soft drink bottle with a few stones in it or using any other noise maker is an excellent way of startling the dog. When startled the dog will stop barking, at that point give the dog a substitute, a toy, bone or a walk etc. Make sure you do not give the dog the substitute unless the barking has stopped or the dog will think it is being rewarded for barking.

This type of barking is instinctive and difficult to control, especially where there are multiple dogs. Often one of the dogs will instigate the barking and the other dogs will join in to identify themselves. Control this barking by using similar methods used for alert or warning barking, for example obedience and reward or substitute with a toy etc.

If your dog barks excessively during play, it is best to let it calm down by slowing the game down, or if the dog continues to bark, stop playing until the dog settles down.

Dogs who bark when bored can be similar to dogs seeking attention or those that are lonely. Bored dogs need something to do other than barking. Providing a more stimulating environment. Exercising the dog(s) before leaving is a must. A tired dog is far less likely to get bored. Toys such as Kongs that can be filled with treats or a large bone will get your dog's brain as well as his body working.

Dogs who bark when they are left alone may be displaying a symptom known as separation anxiety. The more lonely the dog, the more upset it becomes and the more it barks. The more it barks the more upset it becomes and so on.

Firstly you must teach the dog simple obedience and how to relax as in alert or warning barking. Then you must spend time curing the dogs underlying anxiety behaviour. This can be done by leaving the dog for a short time. Act like you are leaving, and before the dog starts getting nervous and barking, you return (this may be just for a few seconds at first).

You must return before the dog starts to bark or we will reward the dog for barking instead of relaxation and silence. You then very gradually increase the time away from the dog ensuring you return before the dog becomes anxious.

You should consider changing our habits as these often indicate to the dog that we are leaving. For example picking up the car keys and putting on our shoes, vary this by not leaving, instead go and sit on the sofa. If you have the radio or lights on when you are home don't turn them off when you leave and don't make a fuss when you leave. Do not make a fuss when you return and don't punish the dog if it has caused damage, as you will only make it worse. Also if possible have a friend visit the dog during the day.

Use similar methods as used for alert or warning barking. If there is a particular noise that upsets the dog, record it and play it back to the dog at a very low volume, if the dog remains quiet, reward it.

Over days or weeks gradually increase the volume until the dog is no longer startled into barking by the noise.

The barking we have talked about up to now is mostly normal behaviour apart from separation anxiety. Dogs that bark at inappropriate things (a leaf falling), or barking in a very aggressive manner, could fit into the pathological category. They should be referred to an animal behaviourist or veterinarian.


We need to teach the dog to respond to a command or signal to stop barking, by making a noise to distract the dog from barking. As soon as the dog stops you should give the command “enough” and immediately reward the dog either by praise or by giving a treat. Do not give the reward until the barking stops or the dog will think that it is being rewarded for barking and not for stopping the barking.

Important: This method will not work if you are away from home. If you are away either put the dog inside or prevent the dog from seeing the intruders.

Using Barking Correction Collars

These should be used only after discussions with your veterinarian. There are many types available, some giving the dog an electric shock, others producing a smell which is offensive to the dogs, and some collars produce an irritating ultrasonic sound. The use of these collars should only be used in conjunction with behaviour modification. These collars must not be used on dogs with anxiety problems as they may well increase the dog's anxiety.


This is a surgical procedure that removes the vocal cords. De-barking will not result in a silent dog, as the dog will still attempt to bark, and the sound created may be more annoying than the bark itself.

Important: De-barking will not cure the cause, be it, fear boredom or anxiety. The Council's Animal Control Section does not favour this method.

Preventing Nuisance Barking in Puppies

Teaching your young dog appropriate behaviour is easier than changing bad behaviour that has become a habit.

Behaviour that we may consider as cute may not be cute when the dog is an adult.

When you bring the puppy home, consider keeping the puppy in a crate in a room in your house for the first few nights until it becomes secure. This will build the puppies trust in you, and will also build a strong bond.

After a few nights, slowly move the crate further away from you, until you can put the puppy outside. At this point the crate should be exchanged for a kennel.

Training your puppy in simple obedience and relaxation methods will greatly reduce the likelihood of it becoming a problem barker.

Introduce your puppy to situations that may cause anxiety later on. Get your puppy used to a busy street (on a lead of course) and expose it to noises produced by vacuum cleaners, hair dryers and other noises.

Puppy classes are a great place to socialise your young dog.

Stray Cats

The situation with stray cats is a complex one for councils. Unlike the Dog Control Act, there is no specific legislation that gives Council’s the authority to assist the community in managing issues like that created by stray cats. Stray cats are not officially classed as pests, and are treated differently to feral cats. The Department of Conservation says strays are not their responsibility whilst feral cats are. At present, much of the work dealing with stray cats is left to volunteer groups.

We are limited in our ability to manage issues from stray cats, but we do provide a cat trap service to the community for a refundable deposit of $50.

Cat Owners

As per our Public Safety Bylaw, no person may keep more than three cats per dwelling on private land in the town centre or a residential area without written permission, in the form of a permit or licence, from the Council.


Female cats can become pregnant from a very young age (around 6 months) and may produce several litters of kittens in a breeding season. It’s a good idea to desex all cats at around 20 weeks (5 months) to prevent unwanted litters. Desexing may also reduce unwanted anti-social behaviours, such as yowling, spraying and cat fighting in male cats. An un-neutered female in a residential area could be responsible for thousands of unwanted kittens in her lifetime.


It's not only dogs that can be microchipped, there are huge benefits from microchipping your cat as well. Cats that are microchipped can be easily returned to their owner if they become lost or separated. The local vets or the nearest SPCA can provide more advice on desexing and microchipping.


To find out more about animal control, please contact the Compliance Team at the Wairoa District Council.

+64 6 838 7309


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