“Do we have to go in and pay the registration now if it’s over a year since we first registered?” asked Sheryl John on the Rarotonga Community Facebook page this week, voicing a question on many dog owners’ minds of late.
The short answer, according to police spokesman Trevor Pitt, is yes.
“Dog owners need to comply with the law,” says Pitt, explaining that dog registration has never been a one-time fee and that owners have always been legally required to renew their dog licences annually.
Those who cannot prove their dog is registered and that their fees are up to date will face prosecution.
“Owners will go to court,” says Pitt.
The annual fee for a dog licence is $50 for a male and $60 for a female.
It pays for a registration tag with a registration number that is tracked to a database containing information on owners and their animals.
There is some uncertainty as to why it costs $10 more per year to register a female dog – given that all animals are required to be desexed when first registered, but Pitt says “it may be to provide a backstop for failures to do so”, as well as an effort to “deter ownership of females and perhaps better control breeding”.
Those unsure when their dog was last registered can check with the licensing office to find out if they have breached the 12-month registration period. If your dog’s registration tag has been lost or stolen, replacement tags can be purchased for $10.
Tags are also colour-coded for each district: red for Puaikura, yellow for Te Au O Tonga and blue for Takitumu, and tag numbers can be matched up with information on the database to confirm their legitimacy.
Other things owners need to be aware of is that there is a two-dog limit per household and that a collar is meaningless without a visible and valid registration tag.
With only one in five dogs on Rarotonga properly registered and a recent survey counting 2789 dogs at 1500 homes on the island, police have reiterated the hardline stance they’ll be taking against owners who don’t manage their dog’s behaviour and comply with registration.
“There will be no more excuses,” says Pitt.
“Owners do have an opportunity to prove registration, but if they are keeping a dog without a tag – that is not acceptable.”