QLDC investigates "singing dog" attack

by Peter Newport - Nov 05, 2021

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is investigating a serious attack on the lakefront involving the “singing dog” and the dog’s owner.

The incident involved another dog being attacked by “Happy” the singing dog and was detailed in a social media post on the Queenstown Lakes Dogs Facebook page that has 3,500 followers.

The post claims the attack would have killed the other dog if Happy’s owner was not able to “pry my dog away from his teeth.”

This Facebook post detailing the incident was subsequently removed.

Crux has asked QLDC for details of the attack that is the subject of a formal complaint, and also for details of how buskers along the lake front are currently regulated.

A Crux survey on the question of whether the singing dog act is a nuisance or a benefit to Queenstown received 500 responses with 73% in favour of the dog and the owner being banned from the lakefront due to animal welfare questions, the howling noise that upsets people, disruption to lakefront businesses and alleged rudeness by the dog’s owner to members of the public.

Here’s a sample of some pro and anti comments.

  • The dog sounds distressed which is awful. Other acts are difficult to hear. All in all not a good thing for our waterfront.
  • No one, not even dog owners, want to listen to a barking dog ever.
  • It’s a terrible look for Queenstown to have a “performing animal” as entertainment, plus I know that dreadful noise is awful for the local retailers to have to listen to, day in and day out!!!
  • You can hear the dog howling over the sound of everything else blocks away and up the hill. It carries more than any other sound, but mainly no dog should be made to howl for hours like that dog does. We should not be turning a blind eye to its possible distress.
  • I have seen the way he treats that dog, cruel. And it’s a pain, having to work down on the waterfront and having a howling dog destroys the serenity in the evenings. Have had multiple complaints regarding this dog
  • It isn't singing, it's howling and carries all the way over to the gardens. Not remotely enjoyable to hear.
  • The dog is adorable and not nearly as loud as music that restaurants and bars play
  • They make so many tourists smile. He earns a living from it and the dog is loved and treated really well.
  • Happy loves to sing and I hear people and especially kids looking for Happy and Kim whenever they come to visit Queenstown. They are an institution and should be allowed to do their show. How did this even become such a big issue? Leave them alone to entertain visitors as they have done for years.

Councillor Penny Clark - concerned for the dog's wlefare.

It is worth noting that most of the comments on social media and in this survey that were against the dog were relatively polite and logical – but many of the dog’s supporters were abusive in their tone saying it was none of anyone’s business and the man and his dog should be left alone to earn a living.

Councillor Penny Clark who raised the singing dog issue at a recent council meeting told Crux:

“We are waiting to see what we can do as QLDC I am concerned for dog’s welfare and human’s suffering ears…….particularly people working in the vicinity as they cannot walk away !”

Crux has approached the owner of the dog that was attacked for comment.

Here is the response from QLDC to questions from Crux:

Can you confirm the incident involving the singing dog attacking another dog by the neck in front of many onlookers actually happened last Friday?

We’re unable to comment on an ongoing investigation.

What are the initial findings of your investigation?

See above.

What measures are available to council?

Answered together with the next question.

How are the lakefront buskers managed by QLDC - what are the bylaws - is there a permit system - what constitutes a nuisance or a health/safety/noise compliance issues?

The relevant bylaw is Activities in Public Places Bylaw 2016 (available on our website here) which was approved after public consultation. Information relating to busking can be found in Sections 12 and 16 of the bylaw. Enforcement is covered in Part 4. Information about permits etc is available via the following two links:

 Given that commercial rate paying businesses are affected - why has QLDC not already taken action?

Council considers all comments or complaints that it receives directly and takes the appropriate action in line with current bylaws and regulations."

Source: QLDC.

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