A dog breeder says his city has gone to the dogs - so the shih tzu enthusiast is taking drastic action.
Paul Henry, 65, is so angry at Auckland Council's proposed dog fee rises, he's heading to Tokoroa.
"The cost of the registration, I find diabolical," he said.
Henry was itching to leave this month, saying licensing fees for his seven shih-tzus would add about $370 to his bill. "I've just gone on to the pension, I cannot afford that."
Fee rises were first mooted in February. Prices for some unspayed dogs would leap from $128 to $210.
The outraged response from dog owners has the council considering a backdown. Council spokeswoman Angela Jones said the fee situation was in flux. "The proposals are likely to change, given the volume and the passionate response council has received on the subject from the dog owners of Auckland."
But Henry believed he'd save by moving to Tokoroa, instead of waiting for the council to confirm its new fee regime in May or June. "Whatever they drop it to, it's still going to be higher than what it was."
The shih tzu breeder said he'd pay $60 per dog with "selected special owner" status in Tokoroa.
Henry said he believed other breeders would also leave town to escape the fees. "It's becoming a rich man's hobby to have a pet," he said.
Alaskan malamute breeder Toni Harris said she considered leaving town too. She'd wait to see what fees Auckland Council decided on. "It's going to be extremely expensive so it's definitely something we've considered, but we're just waiting to hear the outcome," Harris said.
"We pay a lot of money to have them registered and it doesn't seem we get anything back."
Auckland Council said fees helped fund services including dog control, animal shelters, microchipping, kennels and school education on dog safety.
"Councillors are keen to see this resolved and good dog owners rewarded. They agree council needs a better way to manage the process and also listen to dog owners' concerns over the proposed changes," spokesman Glyn Waters said in a statement.
A public meeting on "dog-related issues" is being held in Auckland's Aotea Centre tomorrow at 4.30pm and will be open to dog owners.
New breed of thieves stealing tags
Keep a tight leash on your dog tags - some people are stealing the canine world's licence plates.
Aucklander Ian Fraser wrote on Facebook about a pitbull that attacked his friend's dog. The pitbull, he said, was later found wearing tags registered to a chihuahua from Remuera. Animal control officers said this case rang no bells - but other instances of tag thefts were known to occur.
"From time to time we do encounter dogs that are wearing the incorrect tags or hear of instances of theft," Auckland Council's Rosemary Hagg said in a statement. "However, there are only a dozen or so such incidents a year, which is not many amongst the nearly 100,000 dogs we have registered."
It remained unclear what percentage of tag thefts were actually reported. Removing, swapping or counterfeiting a dog tag carries a $500 fine, Hagg said. Lost or stolen discs were supposed to be replaced. The replacement cost $5. New discs display a new number and the old number became invalid.
SPCA chief executive Christine Kalin said: "It is important for the safety of dogs and all of the community that we have good systems in place to identify a problem. We do encourage people to register their dogs - but for it to work well we need to make sure if tags are stolen, they're reported."