A public backlash against a rise in dog registration fees has led to a backdown from the Auckland Council.
Council had proposed fees would increase from $47 to $120 for desexed dogs and from $53 to $160 for other dogs.
However, Deputy Mayor Penny Webster last night said the council was in the final stages of lowering those increases. She could not give further details on how much less they would be - although the drop would be "significant".
"We have had several discussions about it and we've come up with several ideas. We are definitely going to lower the fees and there will be a discount for responsible dog owners [who desex their dogs]."
Ms Webster blamed the changes on former Act leader Rodney Hide, saying when he was Local Government Minister he set the level too low for the first year of the Auckland Council.
"They were quite arbitrary to what the costs are, so we have to work out what the costs are of having dog control officers and those sorts of things that we're required to have by law and someone's got to pay for it."
Ms Webster said the council hoped to release the new fee costs at the start of next month after all the councillors agreed on the changes.
SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge said the council would need to "slash" the proposed increases by a considerable amount for them to be seen as fair and realistic.
"Many families struggle to do their best for their dogs when it comes to food and healthcare. It's absurd to impose a high licensing fee on them, in addition to these essential items of expenditure."
Mr Kerridge said the SPCA did twice the animal control as the Auckland Council for half the cost and was urging dog owners not to register their pets. Each year, the Auckland Council spends $12.2 million on dog control, while its 51 Animal Management Officers and two contractors last year investigated just 32,419 complaints, or 635 per officer. But SPCA Auckland said its six animal welfare inspectors coped with 9814 cases, or 1636 per inspector.
"In addition, we care for 18,384 animals per year at our Animal Village in Mangere. All of this, and a range of other welfare activities, are funded by a budget of just $6.5 million," said Mr Kerridge.
The SPCA has been urging owners to sign its petition and not register their dogs to protest against the proposed increases. In 10 days, the petition has got about 3500 signatures.
"Every well-behaved dog understands the words 'sit' and 'stay'. We want dog owners to follow their best friends' example and sit tight, until Auckland Council ensures that registration fees stay at reasonable levels," Mr Kerridge said.
An Auckland Council spokesman said there had been more than 4000 public submissions on the proposed registration fee changes in its draft long-term plan. In all, 857 dog owners said they wished to be heard at a public hearing.
"We are listening to responsible dog owners and have heard their concerns loud and clear," the spokesman said.
* Only one person can be the registered owner of a dog. If you are under 16 the dog must be registered under a parent's or guardian's name.
* The registration period is from July 1 to June 30 the following year, each and every year.
* You can further reduce the registration fee if you have your dog desexed and/or by obtaining a dog owner licence.
* Your dog may be impounded and you will be issued with a $300 fine or be prosecuted for not registering a dog.
* A dog must wear a colour coded registration disc to show it has been registered for that year (the colours change each year).