27 June 2019

Bigger discount coming for desexed dogs

The Gore District Council this week decided on changes to dog registration criteria and fees, but is delaying the roll out to minimise the impact on owners.

With effect from 1 July 2020 dogs will be classified as working and non-working for registration purposes, not urban and rural.  The change is to make the dog registration structure compliant with the Dog Control Act 1996, which does not allow councils to classify dogs by location for registration purposes.

The Council is also increasing the discount given to owners with desexed dogs. Previously owners with desexed dogs received a $10 discount on their registration fees. The discount will rise to $40 from 1 July 2020.

Regulatory and Community Services General Manager Dr Ian Davidson-Watts said it was important for dog owners to realise the changes will not come into effect for another 12 months.

“In that time owners will be able to take steps to assess what, if any, impact these changes mean for them.”

The increased discount for desexing recognises the cost to owners, he said.

“The main reason for increasing the discount though is that desexing is acknowledged as reducing aggressive behaviour and the motivation for dogs to escape and wander.

“We have not seen a reduction in such behaviour in recent years – in fact over 80% of registered dogs we find wandering are not desexed. If we can cut back the number of wandering and aggressive dogs it will go a long way to effectively reducing many of our dog-related issues.”

Dr Davidson-Watts acknowledged the changes will affect a significant number of dog owners, particularly those with non-desexed non-working dogs. In some cases there will be a substantial increase in fees.

However, there are also many owners who will be unaffected by the change, and some who will get a registration fee decrease, he said.

“Unfortunately we are bound by legislation in terms of how we classified dogs for registration purposes.”

The anomaly was discovered when staff were investigating changes that could be made to the fee structure as part of the Council’s Dog Action Plan, which outlines a review of dog registration incentives, he said.

The registration fee structure for 2020 / 2021 sees the base fee for a non-working dog set at $120. This is the same as current urban dog fees.

Discounts of $40 for desexing and $20 for no complaints or impoundment in the last two years brings the fee back to $60. Again, this is the same as current urban dog fees.

The fee for working dogs will be $25, which is the same as current rural dog fees.

  Dog registration records show the approximate numbers are:

  • 850 desexed non-working dogs in an urban area – registration fee stays the same
  • 530 non-desexed non-working dogs in an urban area – fee increase unless desexed before July 2020
  • 670 non-working dogs living in rural areas – fee increase (will vary depending on whether the dog is desexed or not) 
  • 35 working dogs living in the urban area – fee decrease


The main definition of a working dog (as set out in the Act) that would apply to most Gore District dog owners is ‘a dog kept mainly for herding or working with stock’.

Breeds the Council have identified as usually being thought of as working dogs include: 

  • Collie (Bearded, Border, Rough or Smooth) 
  • Heading
  • Huntaway
  • Australian Kelpie
  • Australian Cattle Dog

“We know there could be cases where a breed of dog usually considered a non-working dog may be used as a working dog.

“If an owner believes this applies to their dog, they need to contact the Council. We will visit their property so they can demonstrate the dog meets the definition of a working dog as stated in the Act,” Dr Davidson-Watts said.

Dogs kept for breeding and showing do not fit the definition of a working dog. However, the Council agreed to classify the Eastern Southland Hunt Club’s hounds as working dogs for registration purposes, as allowed for under the Dog Control Act.

Dog registration notices for 2019/20 will start being sent out at the end of this week. The Council will include information about the changes as well.

Gore District Council 29 Bowler Avenue Gore P: 03 209 0330 E: