Local Heroes – SWDC Bylaws Officers

Today's local hero story is about two of our members in the South Wairarapa District Council who work as Bylaw Officers.

Sugar the dog

Because Andrew and Derek are shy, they've provided us with a photo of Sugar in lieu of a selfie.

South Wairarapa District Council Bylaws Officers Andrew McEwan and Derek Oldridge provide a 24, hour service to their community, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year – often in trying and potentially hazardous situations.

South Wairarapa District Council covers a large rural landscape of 245,692 hectares, which include its three urban towns of Featherston, Greytown and Martinborough.

On a regular day their Bylaws role might cover animal issues from general stock – like sheep on the road – to dog control, and the enforcement of all relevant legislation including the Impounding Act, Litter Act and the Council Bylaws.

Both agree that the scope of their role ensures that no two days are the same.

With the South Wairarapa coastline being a popular tourist and holiday destination, Derek and Andrew undertake monitoring and enforcement tasks over holiday periods around the coast and reserves where freedom camping takes place.

Being part of a small Council, it is up to the two Bylaws Officers to be on hand as, and when, animal issues arise.

Both Andrew and Derek agree that the hardest part to their role are the dog attacks, whether on people or other animals. “Particularly children, any attack on children is the hardest”.

“There’s been a really big shift in the way people think of their dogs in particular”, Andrew says. “Where 50 years ago nearly all dogs slept outside in kennels, now probably 50% or more of urban dogs sleep inside at night and are considered as much a part of the family as children”.

This regularly puts them in the middle of people who want to see a dog punished for an incident and the dog owners who will do just about anything to save their dog.

Derek and Andrew are dog enthusiasts themselves and will go through multiple avenues to find the home of a found dog, or to facilitate the re-homing of an unclaimed dog. Their passion for animals, and animal welfare, helps drive them in their roles, and they work hard to advise and educate people on how to be good pet owners.

Both Andrew and Derek are great with people, a skill which helps them to apply the human aspect to the legislation and bylaws of the Acts they are required to enforce. This is reinforced by the positive feedback they receive from within the community.

Thanks to the guys for allowing us to profile them and to the newest delegate Mel Maynard for submitting the story. It was a great team effort. The guys were a little bit camera shy and being so passionate about animal welfare they have asked us to share a photo of another team members cute dog Sugar.