A controversial new dog bylaw has attracted more than 1200 submissions, a record for any single-topic consultation by the Far North District Council.
The council was required to update its Dog Control Bylaw in 2016 but the initial version sparked howls of protest from dog owners — due, among other things, to strict limits on access to beaches — and was eventually abandoned.
The controversy also spurred dog owners to set up a lobby group, the Bay of Islands Watchdogs, which has grown to more than 1000 members.
It also put a spotlight on conditions at the council's dog pounds and prompted the SPCA to demand improvements in animal welfare and record keeping.
When consultation on the new version of the bylaw closed last week, 1215 submissions had been received, almost four times the 337 received in 2016.
A council spokesman said previous Long-Term Plans had received more submissions but those consultations covered multiple subjects.
Information about the proposed new bylaw was sent to 7119 registered dog owners, 1468 people who had asked to be informed about council consultations, 264 people who had made submissions to the 2016 proposal, 222 special interest groups, and 163 iwi/hapū organisations. Council staff and elected members also attended nine markets and handed out 850 brochures.
Later this month, submitters who want to make oral presentations will be heard at Te Ahu in Kaitaia (October 18), the Council Chambers in Kaikohe (October 24) and Kingston House in Kerikeri (October 30). If more time is needed, October 31 has been set aside as a reserve date in Kaikohe.
Other issues to spark record or near-record numbers of submissions in the past have included a proposal for targeted road rates (2013) and a review of gaming machine rules (2010).