Masterton dog owner Clive Hullett's argument that dog owners in the district are paying too much in fees is not a new one.
It surfaces on the radar of most councils from time to time. Certainly, it was an issue raised with Wellington City Council, in terms of what Wellingtonians got for their buck. I confess, when I moved to Featherston, bringing my two dogs with me, I was so grateful for the significant reduction in dog fees that I did not give it any more thought.
But since I've had a couple of calls to my office on Masterton dog fees, the fee increase has clearly touched a nerve - and perhaps hit a threshold of tolerance.
Mr Tullett suggests that Masterton is more expensive than comparable councils and in that he may have a point. Over the hills at the Horowhenua District Council, registering a desexed urban dog costs $48 among a population of 31,000. In our neighbouring Tararua District, it's $38 if you achieve preferred dog status. For Masterton, it's $79 for a desexed urban dog.
So, what are we getting for our money, and are we paying too much? In Wellington, my recollection was that dog fees went into the general coffers, and became part of the overall fund to keep Wellington functioning. I suspect that's the same for most councils.
Districts suffer from wear and tear, physical and figuratively, and dogs are part of that wear and tear. They don't contribute anything positive, apart from being part of the general well-being of a community. In fact, a lot of time, dogs are a distinct negative to a council. It is right and proper that dog owners pay for the privilege of having their "weight" on a community.
Which brings me to Mr Tullett's point, in that responsible owners are meeting the costs of those who are not responsible. My view is that irresponsible dog owners are inevitable. Our rates go towards combating the bad - vandalism, graffiti - as well as the good. It is also our lot that our taxes pay for people who commit crimes, or even those who have the gall to live unhealthy lives. Fees, rates and taxes pay to hold it all together.
But is the dog fee too high? Well, it could be. And if dog owners want to hold a rally, I'm a big fan of that concept.