In a tremendous demonstration of citizen participation, an estimated 22,000 Hastings residents turned out for a public meeting yesterday on dog control.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” exclaimed Mayor Yule, “This is twice the number of people that voted for me in the last election. I want them to know I feel their anxiety. No more speeches about sustainability from me … that’s sooo yesterday … from now on, I’m all about dog control!”

Added Councillor Cynthia Bowers: “This is bigger than the sports park, bigger than Ocean Beach, even bigger than the firing of the Health Board. I’m not sure what these people want, but I’m all for it.”

HDC’s senior group manager of dog control, Wheaton Terrier, noted: “There would have been even more people here, but several thousand residents got mis-routed to the sports park, and haven’t found their way back. It’s waaay out there, you know.”

The crowd, which seemed evenly divided on the issue, was so large the demonstration had to be moved outdoors, to the empty field that was once Nelson Park. But the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those in attendance. Chants of “leash those lassies” and “muzzle the mongrels” — countered by “dogs don’t bite, people do” and “bite me” — could be heard all the way back to the deserted central business district.

For its size, the crowd was mostly well-behaved. Police kept the mob on a short leash. However, officers did need to step in to avert violence when outraged gang members threatened to pummel a contingent from the Mary Doyle Lifestyle Village when the rowdy seniors tried to burn a pit bull in protest. The pit bull was rescued, but only after biting several officers.
Hastings Councillors huddled behind closed doors for an hour, while the crowd waited nervously, to hammer out a compromise between advocates of banning all dogs in public, and others championing “dog emancipation.” However, when a proposed compromise was presented to the people, the deal fell apart. Opposing sides were unable to agree on what constituted the acceptable maximum length for leashes. “We knew this could be the biggest bone of contention,” said Jack Russell, chairman of Unleash the People.

“We’ve done all we could,” said an exasperated Mayor Yule. “This is a tougher issue than beach erosion at Haumoana, or closing the dump at Blackbridge.”

The leash length issue will now be put before Hastings voters in a special referendum to be held as quickly as possible, given the urgency of the matter.

“We have citizens who are afraid to leave their homes,” noted Councillor Bowers, “they can’t be held hostage by dog terrorists any longer.”

Yes, it was a messy day for democracy in Hastings, but most Councillors were upbeat, seeing the massive turnout as a sign that citizen participation is alive and well. Only Councillor Kevin Watkins disagreed. “My Chinese sister-city friends will never understand why we aren’t just eating the bloody dogs,” he lamented. Off he went to lobby Hawke’s Bay Today not to report on the demonstration.

BayBuzz spotted a bemused Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott surveying the scene. “As we pointed out our submission to the Hastings Council, there’s no need for our two cities to take a unified approach on dog by-laws,” she sniffed. “Our dogs in Napier are perfectly well behaved — it all starts with the pedigree of their masters, you know — so we can be far more enlightened on these matters. Our dogs wouldn’t even think to poop in public.”

As we get closer to the referendum, BayBuzz will publish a special election edition on the dog control vote. And you can bet your dog license, we’ll let you know where each Councillor stands on the issue.

Tom Belford

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  1. Why not have Nelson Expark as a free-range dog exercise & pooping area? Everyone else has pooped on the place -why not dogs?

    Or it would be a simple matter from the park to run a separate dog poop pipeline to the BTF plant -where it could be mixed with domestic & industrial waste -given a 'make-believe' treatment and shipped off to the ocean.

  2. There once was a dog named Mule who barked at everything like a fool. One day he attacked his master whose response couldn't have been faster. Off to the dog box he went, after some time at the vet was spent!

    The moral of the story is……

    You can bark like a fool if you like but as soon as you bite the hand of the man that feeds you…….your knackered!

  3. After reading this, my thought was are they for real or is this a joke…

    My opinion on this matter is, you have two types (or maybe three) of people out there, there are dog lovers and non dog lovers and the ones who are *****scared of dogs. And the council won't be able to please them all. But for me (from the category of dog lovers), there is only one important party involved – The Dogs!

    To be honest I own two dogs and I feel dogs have a bit of a dogs life in New Zealand. As a dog there are so many places you are not allowed to go to. Most of the bushes – no dogs allowed (might eat some 1080 or worse a kiwi)! Out in the country (farming areas) – no dogs allowed – might eat some sheep! Try to travel somewhere with a dog,.. not many places you can stay! Worst of all owners are still allowed to tie or chain their dogs for restraint – in most western countries this is deemed as cruelty against animals and it makes the dog more aggressive. Maybe we need an owner control law and give dogs more freedom. Provide more dog parks like the one at Pakowhai! Every good dog owner will know that if in town, parks and other public places to have their dog on a leash – I do it for my dogs protection. Have some common sense and leave us responsible dog owners alone.

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