Hastings District Council could fall back from its hard line on nabbing unregistered dogs following a steady stream of complaints from pet owners over the actions of its animal control team.
The issue was raised at day one of the council's annual plan hearing yesterday, where some councillors asked if the animal control staff could be allowed more discretion when confiscating unregistered dogs.
Councillor Henare O'Keefe said he had been out with the animal control team and was alarmed by the reaction of the public.
"When people see them coming up the road, they want to turf them out. What I am asking, is there any room for a little but of discretion.
"Do we have to ping them (dog owners) straight away.
"It is the way we are taking them (the dogs) which is my real concern and this is causing a lot of ill feeling towards the council and the (animal control) staff."
The council's chief executive Ross McLeod said councillors made a decision a few years ago to take a tougher line on problem and menacing dogs. Evidence showed a majority of unregistered dogs were the ones causing trouble.
"This is working well. The bad feelings are coming from people breaking the law and we believe we have the support from the rest of the community."
Councillor Rod Heaps said he had fielded calls from Te Awanga people which suggested the animal control team was swiping any dogs they saw on the streets.
"It was observed a dog had been called from the gate of a property and taken.
"This concerns me, what are we trying to achieve here? Are we looking for dangerous dogs or raising our revenue."
Mr McLeod said the version of events retold by Cr Heaps had been disputed by staff.
He said if the council did not agree with the policy the animal control team was using, it could make a change, although he encouraged councillors not to.
Councillor Ru Collin had earlier asked if dog owners were given a warning before unregistered dogs were taken and Mr McLeod said there were first-time warnings. The dogs were taken to the council's pound and the owner could collect the pet when its registration fee was paid. Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said councillors could change the policy or look at giving people a warning but there were disadvantages.
"We run the risk of the dog disappearing, that's the down side of it, and we have tried this before. Dogs are amazingly portable when they need to be and get shipped around when they need to be.
Mr Yule said the council had tried the "softly option" giving people time to pay the fine but it had not worked.
The council meets today to conclude its annual plan hearing and is likely to decide whether it wanted to change its dog control policy.