In some districts dog registration can be a significant expense. Many farmers feel their district council is scooping up money for dog registration fees when it is in fact incredibly rare for a farm working dog to cause problems requiring the attention of a dog control officer or the pound.
Federated Farmers is trying to get consistency into dog registration fees. We acknowledge a number of district councils have established fee categories for working or rural dogs, offering reduced fees or price breaks for dog teams. We want to encourage this nationwide.
Gore District Council is an example of a good policy with an annual fee of $16 for rural dogs, compared to urban dogs at $112.50, with discounts for good behaviour. Thames Coromandel District Council's fee is $60 for urban and working farm dogs, but there is no extra charge when there are more than three dogs. Western Bay of Plenty District Council charges $67 per working dog.
Surely Gore's farm dogs are not kinder or more responsible than those further north? We think councils at the higher end of the fee scale need to better acknowledge farmers' good track record of dog management and training. Fees should be targeted at the real source of their costs.
This was shown back in 2003 by Federated Farmers research while trying to get working dogs exempted from compulsory micro-chipping. The Federation succeeded, partly because there was strong evidence of the effective and professional management of working farm dogs. There was no evidence of dog attacks or that problems arose from working farm dogs.
This is also the basis for the Federation's case on fees. At annual plan time, when fees, charges and rates are set, Federated Farmers tries to establish the factual sources of councils' dog control expenses.