Councillors have shelved plans for a new dog pound at Ngāwhā, opting instead to expand the current pound at Kaitaia while they rethink their plans in the Mid North.
The Far North District Council had been planning to build new dog shelters at Ngāwhā and Kaitaia but had to go back to the drawing board in June when the estimated building costs turned out to be far higher than the amount budgeted. It is believed the combined estimates were around $6 million.
As a result councillors asked staff to come up with cheaper options and boosted the budget by $1.4m.
The new options, which were discussed in the public-excluded part of the August 29 council meeting, included pooling the money available to build one new pound at Ngāwhā and repair the current Kaitaia pound.
However, in what is believed to have been a vigorous debate, councillors instead resolved to build 24 kennels next to the existing Bonnett Rd shelter in Kaitaia and asked staff to ''re-examine the location of a new southern animal care facility at Ngāwhā''.
A new report will be presented to councillors at their October 3 meeting, the last before the October 12 local elections.
The land at Ngāwhā was purchased from Top Energy in 2017.
A council spokesman said the new Kaitaia kennels would ensure the council adhered to the Animal Welfare Act, Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations, and the Code of Welfare for Dogs.
However, spokeswoman for lobby group Bay of Islands Watchdogs, Leonie Exel, was unimpressed with the Kaitaia plans, saying it was the kind of decision the group had come to expect from public exclusion.
The pound would not meet even minimum standards in the Temporary Housing for Companion Animals: Code of Welfare 2018 and, due to its proximity to sewage ponds, could not be opened to the public which meant fewer dogs would be rehomed.
Annette Inglis, a member of the Watchdogs' pound working group, said the council ''needed to realise the days of staff popping in to feed animals in a 'dog jail' are over, and start treating animals with compassion, as the law demands".