Auckland dog owners will be delighted the council has backed down on plans to extend a ban on dogs on many beaches and parks during busy times for a large chunk of the year.
The proposal - which would have prohibited dogs being on restricted beaches and parks between 10am and 7pm from Labour Weekend and the end of March - went out for consultation this year as one of a raft of changes to the city's dog bylaws.
But after a massive outcry from dog lovers the council has made a U-turn, with the rules set to become more friendly for dogs, not less.
The "time and season" rules are meant to balance the needs of dogs and their owners, with those of other beach and park users, such as families with young children, by keeping dogs away during busy times.
Current policy recommends dogs be restricted from many beaches and public parks between 10am and 5pm, from Labour Weekend to March 1. Many local boards have different variations of that policy, setting their own times and rules about when and where dogs should be on a leash for specific areas.
Some parks and beaches have no time or season restrictions. A council spokeswoman said there were 150 areas with time and season restrictions while dogs were allowed off-leash at 2500 parks, beaches and reserves at any time.
Auckland Council's website lists which beaches and parks are covered by the time and season rule, broken down by local board area.
The proposed change was meant to standardise the rules across Auckland to avoid confusion but dog owners feared it would leave them with barely any daylight to walk their dog after work, especially outside the summer months.
The majority of the 8000 submitters were opposed to the proposed rule change. And the council appears to have listened - the new rule, set to be voted in on Thursday, would keep the 10am - 5pm ban but only apply it from December 1 to March 1.
Of the roughly 8000 submissions received, more than a quarter were from the Hibiscus and Bays local board area and another 1000 were from Rodney.
Albany ward councillor John Watson said the areas north of the Harbour Bridge had a disproportionately high number of beaches, and passionate dog owners.
They would be "very pleased" to hear the council had been listening.
"Every time this issue comes up it causes a lot of angst and concern. People feel their lifestyle will be affected. You know how important dogs are as companions to a lot of people - and they're not just a little pet budgie in a cage. You don't have to worry about exercising budgies."
Watson said there were still concerns that another part of the bylaw change would lead to dogs being required to be leashed by default. He would be seeking clarification at the Governing body meeting on Thursday.
Other proposals include giving the council the power to ban dog access to areas to protect vulnerable flora - primarily as a response to kauri dieback disease - and requiring people with more than two dogs in an urban area to get a special multiple dog license.
Another change would let people whose badly-behaved dogs had been labelled a menace by the council have that label reassessed after 12 months, if they followed a process to show they were a responsible dog owner and the dog's behaviour had improved.
In 2016/17, 630 dogs were classified as "menacing by behaviour". The change would not affect people who own breeds classed as menacing under the Dog Control Act section 33a, such as the American pit bull.
The proposed changes are in the Governing Body's meeting agenda, available on the council website. Any changes will become official on November 1.