This will be the last year you hear Kevin Coutts' dog registration reminder on the radio with the long-serving Animal Control supervisor retiring.

After 17 years at Rotorua Lakes Council Coutts is signing off and looking forward to spending time with family, fishing and hunting with his dog.

Coutts has been in the Animal Control supervisor role for almost a third of his life and while he says there were not many positives in a job like this, he credits his team and his bosses for helping him create a successful and high-performing unit.

He said he would miss the people he worked with the most but would not miss the hard role itself.


"I've been in enforcement all my life. I was a police officer for years before this role and this is by far the hardest job.

"It's hard to mess with people's lives when you have to go in and take a dog from them. They might be the biggest, most awful dog but it's still loved by that family. It's not the dog's fault either.

"And the act of putting the dogs down - that's the hardest part. I found that hard the first time I had to do it and 17 years later I still found it just as hard. That never changed."

Coutts is passionate about the role of legislation and education in making positive changes for animal control.

Throughout the years he delivered education in schools around the district with his beloved dog Lucy.

"I've always been quite active in the Animal Control Institute and I've done two stints on its executive board and was the president of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty branch twice," Coutts said.

"When the Government was looking at reviewing the Dog Control Act in regard to menacing dogs I was on the advisory board.

"I don't like being in the background – I'm more of a doer. I like to get things changed."

Throughout his years at the council Coutts has maintained his messages to dog owners and would like to see a greater emphasis put on dog owners and their responsibilities.

"In 17 years I have never been to a job where the dog was at fault. I've been to all sorts of jobs and the dog wouldn't have been in a position to attack, or bark, or roam if the owner had been more responsible.

"Simple things, like fencing your property or keeping your dog on a lead, is all it takes.

"A lot of people go for the looks of a dog rather than finding a breed that will suit their lifestyle. For instance, if you're out at work all day, don't get a German shepherd or a border collie.

"We have about 11,700 dogs registered and about 8500 owners in Rotorua. The majority of them are good owners but there are others you continually have to chase.

"People often don't think about how much work or how much money it takes to look after a dog properly. These people really need to consider whether they should have a dog."

Coutts has spent most of his life in some sort of enforcement role, beginning in 1975 when he was 23 and joined the Northern Territory Police in Australia.

He said if it wasn't for his wife wanting to come home, he would still be there now.

He was in the Northern Territory for six years before he came home and joined the New Zealand Police. Working with dog handler Jim Donald and his dog Luke, who was shot in Auckland one night, inspired Coutts to become a dog handler himself.

"It was something I wanted to do and I loved every part of it."

After a while Coutts got to the age where he had to move on and he spent some time trying his hand at fishing charters on the lakes – his favourite pastime after hunting.

When he decided he needed a "real" job he applied for the council role and never looked back.

"It's not easy to find a positive in a job like this but it's been the people I've worked with that have kept me going.

"I've worked with some really wonderful people here and I will miss them."