Animals a labour of love

For Animal Services Acting Team Leader Elle Dickson, working with dogs is a labour of love.

In fact, she loves working with all animals – although she admits chickens do freak her out a little bit. “Usually if we get called out to a chicken I cross my fingers that someone else can go,” she said with a laugh.

Ms Dickson said she and the three other Animal Control officers share the same passion for animals, and they can be dealing with animals of all shapes and sizes on call-outs. “Pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, horses – pretty much anything that wanders out on the roads. We don’t really chase after ducks though, they tend to fly away!”

Elle Dickson and Buster
Elle Dickson with her dog Buster at the Dog Park. Click the image for a larger version.

It’s not all chasing after lost or wandering animals though. The Animal Services team members also work hard to help educate people, particularly about dogs and keeping safe.

“We do school visits and teach the kids how to approach dogs safely,” Ms Dickson said. “We provide training for some businesses and their staff, for example meter readers, if they’re a bit unsure about how to handle dogs in their situation.”

Animal Services staff also provide support and advice to the public and people who are worried the behaviour of their own dogs, or the behaviour of other dogs in their area, are encouraged to call the Council and ask for help.

An important part of the job is reuniting lost or wandering animals with their owners. If if the owner cannot be found, sometimes those animals can be rehomed.

Ms Dickson has adopted two animals from the pound: a Kunekune pig named Ginge, and an eight-year-old dog named Buster. “We knew Buster’s owners and we knew their history, and they agreed for me to take him on,” she said.
To find out what your dog registration fees cover – and to meet Elle and Buster – check out the video at

Registration reminder
The final day to pay registration without penalty is Monday, July 31. Owners can register their dog and pay online at the Council’s website ( or in person at the Civic Administration Building, 101 Esk Street. Owners will then be supplied with the red registration tag for the 2017/2018 year. If owners fail to register their pets by 31 July, they will incur a 25 per cent penalty fee.