Where can I find out the rules on keeping animals in the city?

You can check with your local council as to what the bylaws are relating to keeping  animals. This information should be on their website.

There are additional rules for dog ownership under the Dog Control Act 1996. These rules cover dog owner’s obligations to:

  • register the dog 
  • control the dog 
  • use a leash for the dog in public 
  • collect the dog’s waste 
  • prevent the dog from attacking people or animals 
  • control the dog’s barking

You can contact your local council for more information about dog registration and the obligations of dog owners. You find information about the Dog Control Act, as well as tips on safe dog ownership, on the Department of Internal Affairs’ Dog Safety website.

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What should I do if I find a dog on my property?

Dogs are expected to be kept under control by their owners at all times. If a dog wanders onto your property and does not appear to be well controlled by its owner (e.g. causing distress to people or your own animals, damaging your property), you should  ideally try contacting the dog's owner first, as they may be unaware of the problem but be willing to do something about it.

If you can’t get in touch with the owner or the owner won’t do anything about it, you can contact your local council who can send the dog control officer. Depending on the problem, the dog control officer's actions can include:

  • giving the dog owner advice and information
  • issuing a warning or infringement notice
  • issuing a barking abatement notice
  • seizing the dog.

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What should I do if I suspect that my neighbour is mistreating or neglecting their dog?

If you suspect this is the case you can report it to your local SPCA. More information and advice is on our Animal Abuse page.

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What can I do if my neighbour’s cat comes on to my property and uses my vegetable garden as a toilet?

Unlike dogs and many other animals, cats are allowed to trespass, so generally the owner is not liable for any damage their cat may do. Here are a few anecdotal methods to try for keeping cats out of your garden (but we can't guarantee they will work for you):

  • Buying a cat repellent from your local garden centre or DIY shop
  • Planting marigolds 30 cm apart around the outside of the garden
  • Putting down lemon and orange peel or juice
  • Placing lion poo, which is available on the Internet, on your garden – cats will think they’re in the lion’s territory!
  • Buying a motion-sensor for your sprinkler from the hardware shop
  • Shooting a water pistol at the cat whenever you see it near your garden

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What can I do if my neighbour’s dog barks all the time?

Dogs that bark a lot often do so because they are bored, are experiencing separation anxiety from their owner or are trying to guard their home.

It’s a good idea to first talk to your neighbour to let them know about the problem (if they are away at work all day they may have no idea) and see whether they are prepared to do something to reduce their dog’s compulsion to bark. The dog owner is legally obliged to take reasonable step towards ensuring that the dog’s barking isn’t a nuisance to the people in the neighbourhood.

Otherwise, if the barking is consistently loud, you can complain to your local council. If you do this, it’s worth keeping a record of when the dog barks and for how long. The complaint will be referred to a dog control officer who can go to your neighbour’s property to inspect the situation.

The dog control officer can give tips for reducing the dog’s barking – if things don’t improve after a few days they  can give a formal written notice requiring the neighbour to stop the dog being a nuisance. In extreme situations the officer can remove the dog.

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My neighbour's animals are not adequately fenced. They wander on to my property and wreck my garden. What can I do?

Animal owners are responsible for keeping their dogs and livestock adequately fenced and under control at all times, and are generally liable for any damage their animals cause on other properties. You might like to start by approaching your neighbours about keeping their animals under tighter control. If this does not work you can contact your local council, who can impound the trespassing animals if necessary.

If you share your neighbour’s fence, then you both have equal responsibilities to maintain the fence so that it adequately keeps each neighbour’s animals from wandering. 

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I want to keep chickens in my back yard - do I need to get permission?

Keeping chickens has become an increasingly popular hobby amongst urban and semi-rural dwellers; it’s a source of easily accessible free range eggs and meat, and many chicken owners will tell you how much fun chickens can be as pets. However there can be a downside for neighbours, which may include an increase in noise, smells, flies or chickens getting loose and into the neighbours’ vegetable gardens.

The rules around keeping chickens in rural or urban areas vary depending on who your local council is. For example, if you live in Auckland’s North Shore, you can keep up to six chickens without needing written consent (i.e. a permit) from Auckland Council but you’ll need a permit if you want to keep cockerels or have the chicken coop close to your neighbour’s house (or any boundary). On the other hand, Christchurch City Council has no bylaws restricting the keeping of poultry, though they do expect residents to ensure that their chickens do not become a nuisance for their neighbours.

If you live in a unit title, you'll need to check the body corporate rules in case there are restrictions about keeping chickens; if you live in some other type of housing development you can check your title in case there is a covenant against keeping chickens or other animals on the property.

Before you go ahead and get chickens, it’s a good idea to talk to your neighbours about it. If they have concerns about noise or whatever you'll have the chance to address them – and it won’t hurt to offset your neighbours' concerns by promising them occasional free eggs.

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How do I retrieve my dog from the pound?

Each council has its own arrangements for animal control and dog pounds. Contact your local council to find out where their dog pound is and what the fees are for picking up your dog. The fees will include some sort of payment for collecting the dog as well as the costs of looking after it. This will usually be cheaper if your dog is registered.