Monday, 22 December 2008

Column8 Dog Train - Sydney Morning Herald

Friday 19 Dec:
"State Rail have these large glossy posters at most stations stating the rules," reports John Blackhawk, of Umina Beach. "One rule states 'No pets not allowed'. I emailed, asking if we'd all been breaking the law by not travelling with our dogs, cats, axolotls etc. They asked for clarification - was it me who was travelling with a pet, or had I seen others doing so? I pointed out it was a humorous attempt at pointing out their double negative, and I looked forward to taking my groodle to work on the train. The posters remain unchanged. But I believe it is legal to travel on trains, buses and ferries if your pet is 'under control' anyway. It is, isn't it?" We're not sure. Guide dogs have always been OK, but as for groodles …

Today 22 Dec:
"I got fined for being on 'railway property' with my dog," writes Eedra Zey (Column 8, Friday). "I have in writing from RailCorp that a level crossing is railway property. Therefore, I cannot cross from home to the shops at Woy Woy with my dog without committing an offence."

Barking Mad comments: We look to Column 8 (Column8?) to show us the rules of punctuation,"(_).**

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Silly Season Woofs and Wags

Thanks to a member (and Dulux Paint) for these light-hearted doggie Christmas Carols. Click here to sing three well-known carols along with the dogs. Make sure your speakers are on and your doggie is around to join in too. My dog woke from her post-beach slumber briefly, and my old cat is close to deaf so I had to sing solo; it's wasn't good so lucky for you there is no sound on this BLOG.

And thanks again to member SB (above). I didn't know how I was going to get beyond the last post. I had backed myself into a corner hard to get out of and not dissimilar to the corner the Opera House is now in from their choice to wave 150 pages of 'we are so good' and ignore eye-witness statements and video showing 'we may be so good usually, but we sure failed on this occasion,' but I is MY blog....

We have found out that the mother actually called the police for help before the police killed her child. I, like many of you reaading this, am still disturbed by all this. For me, I can be sure this is at least partly due to my own experience with police thugs earlier this year. (And just to re-iterate, I was travelling legally with my dog as per the 2007 Transport Regulations).

So when is having Glandular Fever a fabulous Christmas Present? (Yes, I have it.) It's a fabulous gift for me because I've been dealing with debilitating medical conditions that do not have direct causal relationships; I have had symptoms exasperated 6 months into treatment and no one knew exactly why; and because it's a diagnosis based on a blood test that is fully accepted by the medicos. Yeah for me - certainty. I like certainty. Now I can rest, enjoy summer, albeit slowly and know that functioning at 10-40% is actually OK because it's temporary.

The benefit to you as a Barking Mad member is that I will be working throughout the Christmas break. So if you and Fido get into strife on a beach or a bus with those revenue protection people, remember that members can call me 24 x 7 for information or advise. In addition, the Barking Mad beach house still has a few vacancies during the silly season. 90 minutes north of Sydney on a dog friendly beach; members welcome by donation.

Friday, 12 December 2008

gang of police kill solo youth of same race and we're not protesting like Athens is?

Updated post after a few phone calls and inquiries. I'M (any expletive here) OUTRAGED! Shooting a gun 'to maim' works ONLY IN THE MOVIES but it doesn't work in real life. Am I really reading this quote from the Victorian Police Assistance Commissioner? Yes, I am.

The Commissioner continues 'we want our police to be trained to 'shoot-to-kill.'

I am so upset by what seems to be a murder of a juvenile by THREE Victorian police in Melbourne. Howard's lie about children overboard got more press than this.
“Why was he slayed to death when it was so unnecessary?”

The entire incident took less than three minutes to unfold, but police had done everything possible to avoid his death, he said.


Postscript March09 - Story on 60 Minutes

Thursday, 11 December 2008

el Loco & el Lobo: A line in the sand

Cross Post: "Today's visit to the beach was a lot of fun until a couple of guys, each with a pair of muzzled greyhounds, turned up and thuggishly started trying to order us off the beach...." Read the rest of the story from an Aussie who travelled Europe for 2 years with a BIG dog...then (for those readers who are not members) rethink your view of pets in our communities.

Apathetic or Anarchistic

Sunday, 7 December 2008


Hasn't Chicago (and surrounds) been in the news? USA President Elect Obama aside, Chicago city ran a high school art contest TO CREATE CITY-WIDE AWARENESS OF DOG-FRIENDLY CHICAGO. Ok, we love it, see previous post. Here is the winner - to be displayed on 1.3 million vehicle parking stickers.

AND, Michigan car insurer Progressive offers Pet Injury Coverage if your dog or cat is injured in a car accident - regardless of fault! As an ex-yank, I can say that ANYTHING offered 'regardless of fault' is indeed progressive.

The Detroit News reported Auto insurers add pet policies. Stating the bleeding obvious:
  • The coverage reflects what pet owners have known for years and some corporations are just now realising: The bonds run deep with fluffy friends.
  • It's an opportunity to provide a new coverage that right for the market.
  • The market is huge with 2 million dogs and 2.5 million cats.
  • Customers love their cats and dogs.
Our comments - DUH! Most domestic pets in Australia carry $10 MILLION liability insurance with your home contents policy (check with your insurer). Common law clearly puts pets as chattel; yep, same as a handbag. This is an interesting angle when dealing with legal stuff. I digress: chattel means no innate rights - that's why Barking Mad is about pet Owners, not dogs or cats, or horses.

Animal rights organisations state their preference clearly in their name - rights for animals meaning a reform of common law/chattel/pet. Barking Mad has an interesting case on foot as a dog was present in a legal assembly (our right of political expression), but the owner was fined for dog in prohibited space. If the dog is chattel (so too a banner, or a loud-speaker), necessary for political expression then how can its owner be fined under council by-laws?

Barking Mad contacted both AAMI and NRMA insurance asking them to promote a product (pet liability insurance) that they currently offered. Both declined. What are they missing? With 2 out of 3 homes with pets, when will they switch on? I recall working with a major industry around the Sydney Olympic Site (and time) to install water tanks. They had a mega-huge flat surface; a perfect catchment with drainage in place. They thought I was nuts. Need I say more?

Saturday, 6 December 2008

A Special Collection of Video for You

Look, it's back. Be touched by Mankind is No Island. Take a moment for yourself and watch. The images were captured on a mobile phone from the streets of New York and Sydney. The story is there for you to grasp, to feel. Who says we need big budgets to create change? Who says our doggies need $69 collars?

I hope to have several video links on the BLOG for you to enjoy, to learn and to celebrate and laugh. Have a look on the menu on the right side of the screen. I hope this will be a 5* service for Barking Mad members and supporters. Send in your video or link to be included.

Current Videos:

Friday, 5 December 2008

Tails of the city: Sydney's passion for pets

Don't miss this exhibition from Saturday 13 December 08 through Sunday 22 March 09. $10 entry (and we're trying to get a members discount and invitation for our well-behaved pets).

Importantly, this is at The Museum of Sydney (MOS). If you ever lose hope working for change, or get frustrated at our nanny state laws, think about MOS. It is on the site of Australia’s first Government House, built in 1788 as a home and office for the colony’s Governor, Arthur Phillip. Many people fought long and hard to prevent this site from becoming another light-restricting soul-less high rise. We owe it to those people, as well as our pets to make a trip to Sydney to see this show. Bookies, be warned. The MOS book shop is known to capture people for hours, only letting them out with a massive credit card purchase!

From the MOS website: "Australians are one of the biggest owners of pets in the world, with two in three households living with animal companions. Along with dogs, cats, birds and fish, we have shared our homes and lives with a variety of animals, from axolotls to yabbies, budgerigars to stick insects, and many in between.

Discover Sydney’s surprising social history of pets, from the early days of the colony where favoured animals served practical purposes for their masters, through to today's indulged furry and feathered family members. Tails of the city is an exhibition for the whole family that explores our passion for pets through photographs, paintings, objects, hands-on activities and film."

Should we know what an axolotl is? . . . And don't miss the talk about keeping a pet in the city by the wise, learned, experienced and lovely (my comments) Tara Mai Dethridge, Companion Animal Liaison Officer, City of Sydney Council (official comments). Tara's talk will cover de-sexing, obedience training, kids and dogs, off-leash parks and the importance of micro-chipping and registration. Sunday 18 January 2 - 2:30pm, free with museum entry, no bookings.

NSW has gone to the dogs … and fish and birds: Sydney Morning Herald article.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Doctor's Orders - Dog is Good

Remember when our national broadcaster the ABC generously offered two VIP tickets to Barking Mad members with assistance dogs to the outdoor opera back in March this year? And then they were denied entry - something to do with multiple agencies being the ABC, Opera Australia and the Opera House Trust. The first two accommodated their guests, and the later did not, and refused to contact the first two to get this sorted. The result: DRAMA !

And now a complaint of disability discrimination after an offer to show the video claiming ''only guide dogs''' was refused by the Opera House CEO. Now that a formal complaint has been lodged, what did Sydney Opera House do with this complaint? They submitted 160 pages saying they did the right thing; the big bank strategy. And finally, they asked to see the video which we have put on YouTube. In their 160 pages, they claim to be experts about assistance dogs and people with disability. This is timely with the International Day of People with Disability this week, the 3rd of December. So we thought we would offer Richard Evans, CEO of Sydney Opera House, a man with a bigger budget than ..... a quiz on disabilities and assistance animals. This is one of the questions:
The 16 photos above are of dogs and the dog’s main carer/guardian. All are legitimate photos taken recently. 9 of these photos are of assistance dogs with the person they provide assistance to (a person with a disability). All of the assistance dogs in these photos are ‘working’ (on-duty, not resting) at the time the image was taken.

Please circle or put a cross in the 9 images where Sydney Opera House would allow dogs on site because they are assistance animals as defined by the DDA.

We will let you know how we go!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Dog Friendly Big City + Poster

What a great example of the marketing and financial power of being dog-friendly; not to mention engaging youth in a big design contest. Vote now for your favourite! The winning 2009-2010 sticker design will be displayed on 1.3 million automobiles.

Chicago. Home to president elect Obama. He promised a puppy for his family in his victory speech and the city he is leaving to take up residence in the White House runs a campaign for a DOG FRIENDLY image. Love it, don't you?

Our families, our pets. Just like we previously shunned, but now embraced seat-belts and home water tanks, our culture will change (back) to one that recognises the important contribution of pets to individuals and communities.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Need we say more?

We are grateful for the images and stories our members send in. This one is timely with our meeting about pets on trains coming up soon. (A policy we have multi-partisan support for). Check out the comments on this image here.
  • I guess no one's gonna tell the dude that dogs aren't allowed on the subway.
  • Did you ask him if the dog was a service animal?
  • I take it the fur coat was his "first dog?"

Monday, 24 November 2008

A post from....

I feel very strongly about this.

I have worked hard to train my dog to walk with me politely in most places (he is two and has been attending weekly obedience training for 18 months), but never on public transport.
I would only rarely need to use public transport because I have my own car, but for instance, I’d love to be able to catch a bus with my dog on weekends and take him into the city.

For larger dogs (that aren’t carried in bags etc) perhaps there could be an examination day, where dogs catch a bus and a train, and are watched, and as long as they don’t cause a problem they gain a ‘travel licence’ or similar.

I have seen guide dogs for the blind crawl under the bus seats so that the dog is out of the way. I would need to train my dog before he was able to do this. Perhaps the testing day could also have some public transport furniture so that we could train our animals to be as non-invasive as possible.

I am worried about there being a single carriage for animals. I don’t think the numbers travelling with animals will be huge. In situations where there more than one dog is travelling on a train, placing them all in the same carriage is inviting problems. My dog is most unreliable where he meets another dog – he wants to greet it, mark territory and other typical dog behaviours. I can manage this by sheer force, but the easiest thing to do is to place greater distance between the dogs. Not to get onto the same carriage, or to sit upstairs when the other dog is downstairs.

Many RTA workers (and others in our community) come from countries where dogs are not kept as pets . Perhaps we dog owners could offer to work with our well behaved dogs and these people to show them how we expect dogs to behave in situations on public transport so they feel less threatened about managing dogs and dog owners on public transport.

Furthermore, those with perfectly trained dogs may forget that many well trained dogs are not perfect in all circumstances. Pretending anything else is probably inviting any progress to be undone by people naively presenting the training of large dogs for unfamiliar on-lead situations as totally routine. A better approach is to emphasise everyone’s willingness to work towards ensuring their dogs can travel on public transport without causing any problems.

Contributed by an owner of a gundog who lives in the northern suburbs of Sydney. The points mentioned are issues where discussion in invited, especially in our multi-cultural society.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

What is acceptable behaviour?

And who says so? (And how much grief am I going to get from this post?). We need to have this discussion.

This is NOT what is responsible pet ownership. This is what is acceptable behaviour for a handler and their dog/s travelling on public transport, and it's a discussion that needs to be had from those travelling with dog and those observing or opposed.

We've all seen breed-ist behaviour, most ill-advised. "Alsatians are dangerous, big dogs are worse than little dogs, little dogs are harmless, Labradors are perfect and don't get me started on Staffies!"

What to we expect from ourselves and what do we expect from other - specific to using public transport across Australia?

I will start with someone else's opinion: (with comments).
  1. Accepting a friendly stranger (is this necessary?)
  2. Sitting quietly
  3. Clean (what happens with wet dog coming back from the beach or having walked in the rain?)
  4. Walking on a loose lead.
  5. Calm walking through a crowd
  6. Sit or down on command and staying in place (may need to use both hands to get through ticket barriers or buy a ticket).
  7. Coming when called (necessary if we have the dog on lead for the entire journey?)
  8. Reaction to another dog (compare this with humans, we don't like everyone, do our dogs need to?).
  9. Reaction to distraction (do we want a dog howling when the train goes over a noisy railway bridge - but they it could be very funny....)
  10. Supervised separation (again, needed if we have the dog on the lead for the entire journey?)

I look forward to your comments with some trepidation and thoughts about cans and worms.

Friday, 21 November 2008


We've received buckets of mail about our upcoming meeting with a public transport provider. Here is a selection:

I'm in favour of anything that allows us to take our dogs on public transport. Training, registration - whatever it takes really. J.T.

I would love to be able to take my dogs on a train and bus so I would be happy to comply with any form of test/ fee/ regulation. All I want is to be able to catch a train so I can meet friends in the park or on the beach, be able to have a few drinks and then get home safely. S.A.

We should be able to take our dogs onto public transport as long as they are well behaved, and on a short lead. In Europe dogs traveling on trains are so well behaved, there are times you would not notice the dog at all even sitting next to it. I feel we have so many restrictions on where we can take our dogs, in the end it has caused so many problems as they are not socialised enough. D.O.

If someone (pet or people) does not behave well on public transport they should not be allowed to use it. The problem is to define what is bad behaviour. There have to be some guidelines (that are almost the same as for humans).
  • Pets not on seat - no shoes on seats
  • No noise - barking, whining, excessive use of mobiles and loud Ipods
  • No aggression - growling, lunge, elbows, stepping on toes
  • Other traveller should not be soiled - jumping, dribble, sweat and alcohol perspiration
  • No food/feeding.
So basically the same as for humans - which shows that there are no extra rules necessary really; and it shows as well what a highly regulated society we already live in. Definitely all rules should be applied with the same lenience as towards the human travellers. It is up to the conductor/driver to enforce good behaviour in their vehicles; the are the only ones that would need training. A.A.

Barking Mad Comments: Self regulation is another option. I've seen people sharing a train or bus take on people using offensive language and it worked.

I would really appreciate being able to take my dog on public transport and into more public places. I subscribe to the notion that the dog should be well behaved and under the total control of the owner (carer) at any given time. It is time that we the dog lovers/owners voiced our opinions to the many and various councils around this great country. I also think it would help if it was a federal ruling so that the rules would be the same all over the country. L.P.

To facilitate pets to travel on trains and avoid animal haters from complaining I think the dedicated pet-carriage is a good idea. Then people who like animals can choose to travel in that compartment with other people and their pets. Then you won't have the others complaining about noise, smell etc.

Clearly identify that persons and their companion animals can travel in a particular carriage. This will provide persons who do not have private transport the ability to commute without having to pay expensive pet taxis. Additionally, it will also create a community environment, because you know that people who travel in that dedicated area are pet lovers, whether they have one or not.

My dog is the love of my life. He currently travels on my motor scooter with me and is the reason why I got my scooter license. I can't afford a car and wanted to take him everywhere I could with him. Its not particularly good on longer trips and when weather is inclement. Having the option to travel by train to see my parents would be great. Currently I would not attempt the trip on the M5 on my bike...far to dangerous, so my elderly parents have to drive down to my place in Redfern.

I am one of the many pet owners with an unseen disability. For nearly 20 years I have suffered with (edited for privacy). Although I am still on medication and probably will be for the rest of my life, my dog has helped me so much I can't explain. He knows when I'm not well and snuggles with me. He gives me a reason to wake up, get out to the park and feel better. He is priceless and there is nothing I wouldn't do for him. Congratulations on all your hard work and dedication. (private)

Thanks for all your good work. I think some sort of test to gain a 'ticket' for dogs to travel on public transport would be necessary. Maybe this would act as an encouragement for dog owners to train their dogs adequately. No one wants an antisocial dog next to them on public transport - but then a well-behaved one would be a great advertisement! D. B.

Barking Mad Comments on the great advertisement: We know! Pema travels on public transport with her command of 'in your house' that sends her under the seat. However, when people DO notice her, over and over and over, they want to pat her, meet her, have her entertain their child in a pram. She either goes unnoticed, or is the facilitator of a community of joy created on a train or bus giving people 20 minutes of connection, joy and laughter. Today we visited Gosford Hospital (as we have done on Fridays for two years), a mental health clinic and a bank. It took A LONG TIME to get out of the bank as Pema had 5 staff enjoying her company while I dealt with a foreign currency exchange. Joy. Bliss. Community. The bank staff got out their photos - printed or on their phones or computer backgrounds and showed me their dogs. What a cack!!!

I'm a single woman with one small dog and two cats. I don't drive or have access to a car. For me to get my pets to a vet costs me at least $30 each way in a cab, which isn't cheap! Generally the cab drivers are quite rude as they don't want 'hair in their cabs' and so it is difficult to pin one down- not helpful in emergencies.

I think it is vital to have a service for people with pets who don't have cars to be able to transport their pets. Public transport is paid for by tax payers and we have the right to be able to use it for ourselves and our animals. Obviously the animals need to be restrained, confined and should be well behaved. But we really need this. I'd hate to think of animals going untreated due to the difficulties getting them to a vet.

I would also love the opportunity to be able to take my dog to agility classes, dog training etc (as there is none available in my area) on public transport. I lived in London where pets are always allowed on public transport and there is never any problems. Done properly, this is a vital service for communities and individuals.

Not everyone can afford to own a car or even get access to one when it is needed. We need to be able to provide a service for all pet owners. J.L.

Most dog owners that I know have had their dogs do some sort of training. Mine, for example, has a Canine Good Citizen certificate, which means that he is well behaved and can follow commands. I support your efforts and also think that some sort of training/certificate should be sufficient for the powers that be. U.A.

I think it is very important to have some sort of training program in place as a large or even a small poorly controlled dog with aggression issues (either to other dogs or humans) could put the whole cause back in the dark ages. Socialising dogs and teaching them appropriate manners is a lot different from an obedience trained dog. Some sort of temperament testing as well as handler control testing, maybe even requesting that some dogs be required to wear a muzzle on public transport might not be as bad as it sounds to some people. There will be always be people who think their dog is perfect but in fact the opposite is the case. Also there are people who will abuse the system.

I would suggest a list of criteria the dog must be able to pass before it is allowed to travel on public transport. As an example just expecting a dog to have say the Community Companion Dog (CCD -gained through dog obedience trials) certificate would not be enough. I have seen dogs who have this title or higher but can be aggressive towards certain other dog types.

I think allocating carriages for people to travel on is also an excellent idea. It allows people who are not dog friendly (either psychologically or physically) to be sure they will not have to have dogs in their faces.
I would love to be able to get on the ferry at Stockton and cross the harbour across to Newcastle with my 2 dogs. It would mean an easier access to the dog beach at Horseshoe Beach on Newcastle Harbour. Also being able to travel by train & bus from Newcastle to Sydney with my dogs would be great.

Read our letters from the transport and other ministers in support (link in progress, the writer has problems with her scanning technology!)

Monday, 17 November 2008

It's Ba ack! And it's NOTA Loophole

Remember the bus arrest? Well, it's back. The NSW Police realised they could not uphold a conviction, but that logical approach has not spread to the State Transit Authority. In fact, we have recent correspondence from our big-salaried Chief Executive of Sydney Buses (Safe, Clean & Convenient, Peter Rowley) stating that the issue of the fines has been reviewed and he is satisfied that they were correctly issued. Guess we'll see as the hearing is tomorrow at Ryde Local Court.

Has he read the legislation/regulations? Well, here it is, straight from the NSW Govt. website; Section 52 (1) A passenger must not take into or on any public passenger vehicle any dog, cat, bird or other animal: (b) in the case of a bus or ferry - except with the permission of,and in the manner permitted by, the driver of the bus or the ferry master.

Eedra Zey walks onto the uncrowded L20 bus at Ryde going to the city. She is obviously with a dog as Pema the border collie is by her side, on-lead. Driver asked destination, Eedra replies, driver says $4, Eedra provides a $20 note and apologises for not having the correct change, driver gives Eedra ticket and change. Eedra sits in the front of the bus and Pema is under the seat, virtually invisible. All is well.

Transit blokes board for routine ticket check. Eedra shows ticket, guys behind her do a dash, transit blokes go towards the back of the bus, but then 'their stop' comes up and they have to move on. Bloke Anal says to bloke Real, what about the dog? Real says to Anal what about it, she has a ticket. And the rest is dramatic history of which we have some very interesting video!

Responsible pet owners will make appropriate decisions about where and when to take their pet into public space. Many of us will even have our dogs 'public access trained' to earn back our privileges. It's time for common scents!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Dogs sniffing for your health

I hope you enjoy the latest videos on our amazing canines - those disguised as 'regular' dogs that actually save lives. Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs mission is "To improve the detection, recognition and diagnosis of human diseases and other medical conditions by the use of dogs and other animals trained in the recognition of relevant stimuli." A worthy mission indeed.

Barking Mad is on a mission too: "Creating a safe and pet-friendly society." Another worthy mission, I hope. It seems we need to appreciate the utilitarian aspect of something to give it deserving respect. As dogs become more "useful" to us, then we may become more pet-friendly in public spaces.

Did you know that both dogs in the photos are assistance animals with the same legal rights as dogs for the vision and hearing impaired? Yet, you can not register them such in NSW because the silly Dept. of Local Government doesn't recognise dogs trained by agencies or people other than the THREE they list! And yes, I have that in writing.

Pets are terrific company, man's best friend and all the rest in their own right, regardless if they help us live healthier, build our compassion or ease our anxiety. Yet, Australian cities have become SO dog-hostile. How local councils (Newcastle, Noosa as examples) can ban dogs from cafes is madness - and this is outdoor seating as well! It simply does not make economic sense. The pet industry is booming and now contributes more to our economy than fishing and forestry combined (the QUIZ answered).

You can read about Grace and her black lab Garbo here. Grace says everyone at her Tennessee, USA school loves the dog. Not so Australia! Remember when a Perth school refused to let a student take his specially trained dog to class? They used the lame excuse of 'concern' about how the dog will fit into a classroom environment and other students possible allergies. So, a child in a life-threatening seizure would fit better into a classroom environment than that child's' assistance animal? Thankfully for this family, another school with more common sense welcomed Corey and his scents dog Oscar.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Dr. John Church: Every family should have a dog.

60 minutes on dogs sniffing to benefit our health. Watch this story here.

An excerpt:
LIZ HAYES: And for those who have been saved by their pets, well, they'd be happy to see a good old-fashioned personal consultation. The dog sitting beside the doctor in the surgery as a way of scanning people?

GILL LACEY: It would be great fun, wouldn't it, and actually I think it would make visits to the doctors much more pleasant.

LH: The possibilities, it seems, are endless. We've all heard it a million times but has it ever been more true - the humble pooch really is man's best friend. For those mums and dads who are listening to you now what would you say to them?

DR JOHN CHURCH: You realise that they are wonderful, majestic creatures in their own right and watch their behaviour. If there is something for good or ill, if the dog is behaving in a funny way take note. Take note.

LH: It also makes a compelling argument for a family dog.

DR JC: Every family should have a dog.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

US President Elect promises puppy for his family.

As a yank in political exile for the past twenty-five years, I watched Barack Obama's victory speech today with a sense of pride and hope I do not remember ever feeling for my country of birth. I grew up with racial segregation, race riots at my school and memories of knives, burnings and fear (as well as mass-consumerism, 24 x 7 shopping and a yes we can attitude that still drives some Australians' mad).

So how special was it that after nearly two years of campaigning, president elect Obama could share with the world his promise to his daughters of a puppy. Very special indeed! At least we know it won't be the first black puppy at the white house...

He said, thanking his wife Michelle - "the love of my life and the nation's next first lady", for the journey they had endured and said he loved his two young daughters "more than you imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that is coming with us to the White House".

Speaking of which, we STILL have not received our reply from the guardians of Abby, the dog at the Lodge. We resent the letter in September. Pema, the Barking Mad mascot is becoming quite the campaigner herself. She has met most of the NSW MP's, and several Senators and Federal MP's. (Because she is so quiet, our most common joke is that she found the proceedings exceedingly boring!) Our most recent function was at the NSW Cabinet forum on the central coast.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Pets on Public Transport

Barking Mad (and mascot dog Pema) attended the Central Coast NSW Cabinet Meeting tonight.

Bag the government all you want, focus on the cuts to the department bureaucrats, the new budget deficit, scandals involving behaviour from MPs we would otherwise adore if from our footie teams. However, the opportunity to spend a few hours with all the State government ministers who have travelled to your regional area should not be bagged. Just because you are dissatisfied with community infrastructure, years of un-fulfilled promises, marginal seat financial gifts, etc., when an entire state government travels to your area, it's democracy in action.

Barking Mad as an organisation is cynical too - why fine a mother with her toddler as sole attendees at a playground $330 because she has her dog with her? Why fine people who park where they reduce visibility in pedestrian/school crossings less than the mum, bub and dog at the playground?

Just 200 people attended Toukley Senior Citizens auditorium to be part of the government’s roadshow which allowed people access to the Premier and his ministers.

Community Cabinet Meetings

Barking Mad fielded two questions at Premier Nathan Rees, including our suggestion the government use valet parking at railway stations (fit more cars into existing spaces and providing employment and security), and the ability to travel on public transport with our well behaved pets.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

My DOG isn't invisible - but my medical condition IS

Just 29 days to go until our events supporting the International Day of People with Disability. Barking Mad founded "MY DOG ISN'T INVISIBLE, BUT MY DISABILITY IS" last year and this was welcomed by many health care professionals. We want to make a bigger contribution this year, showing off the positive health contributions of dogs!

Please have a look at the IDPwD website and those in each State.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Videos - only the best

Check out our new video channel on this blog. We'll show you only the best pet videos available - and a few special non-pet ones as well. Members are welcome to submit YOUR videos to be published. We know you all secretly (or not so) take pictures of your dogs and cats often!

We start off with the story of a woman whose full life with her children and grandchildren took an unexpected turn in her 70's - and no surprises here, it's because of the love of a dog.

Following is a touching reminder of our shared humanity shot entirely on a mobile phone in New York and Sydney - A Tropfest winner.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Ponder on these imponderables

Sent in from a member of Barking Mad - obviously thinking the way we do!

  1. If people from Poland are called Poles, why aren't people from Holland called Holes?
  2. If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?
  3. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?
  4. Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
  5. Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist but a person who drives a racing car not called a racist?
  6. Why are a wise man and a wise guy opposites?
  7. Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?
  8. 'I am' is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Is 'I do' the longest?
  9. If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

  10. What hair colour do they put on the driver's licences of bald men?
  11. Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety one?
  12. Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the posties can look for them while they deliver the mail?
  13. You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.
  14. No one ever says, 'It's only a game' when their team is winning.
  15. Ever wonder about those people who spend $4 on a little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards: NAIVE.
  16. Isn't making a smoking section in a restaurant like making a peeing section in a swimming pool?
  17. Why if you send something by road it is called a shipment, but when you send it by sea it is called cargo?

Monday, 27 October 2008

National Disability Strategy

Have your say about the National Disability Strategy Submissions must be received by Monday 1 December 2008.Dogs, and pets in general, are extremely useful in dealing with the majority of disabilities. Remember that one in five Australians has a disability, and that 88% of these are invisible!

We have an appalling legal situation in regards to Assistance Animals. Although we have excellent Federal legislation, and court cases to support self-trained assistance animals, we have State Laws that DO NOT acknowledge these animals. For example, in NSW a dog trained to assist a person with an invisible disability (such as diabetes, epilepsy, phobia etc) simply CAN NOT be registered as an assistance animal. Help us help dogs help people. You can make your own submission, or send your views to Barking Mad and I will include them in our submission.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Snorkeller dies between flags and your BBQ

A man has died while snorkelling between the flags in shallow water at a patrolled beach near Cairns. "He was swimming between the flags on the public beach on Green Island, which is a well-populated patrolled area with a lifeguard on duty." No less than four tourists have died in the waters off the island in the past three years.

Barking Mad asks, why not ban swimming - it can kill. We ban dogs, also accused of killing.

Swimming and dogs provide an undisputed benefit to our society.
Why then, does one death from a dog (prov0ked by the victim) result in a virtual ban on hunting dogs that protect the pastures required so we can have our steaks, BBQ snags and lamb roasts?

Barking Mad: While I grieve for the family and try to comprehend their loss (I lost a sister to cancer at age 30 and several friends to 'early' deaths), the fact that this story has received virtually NO media coverage and NO legislative changes bothers me. PLEASE read this with a view to the bigger picture and not the individual suffering to those immediately involved. Sudden and unexpected death is becoming socially unacceptable in our medical-miracle society despite the fact that death is the only certainly in our lives.

  • In NSW, we had one 'tragic' death of a child that could be blamed on DOGS (not DocS), and it was. Even though in the subsequent inquiry it was found that 20, YES TWENTY risk of harm reports were received at the DoCS helpline concerning domestic violence, alcohol and drug use in the family of the child involved in the incident blamed on DOGS.
Before the facts were determined, legislation was brought in so that any dog that caused a person to feel afraid could be declared 'dangerous'; guilty before proven. It was a haven for dog-haters; don't like your neighbours dog - call your local council and say you felt fear - your identity would be protected and the dog would be guilty before proven. The proof may come out a year and $30,000 later, but in the interim pooch (if not put down) would be living on a 10M x 10M concrete slab with 2M high fences.

YOUR BBQ & YOUR LAMB ROAST: How eating beef and pork contributes to animal cruelty.
  1. The coroner has recommended enforcement of the dangerous dog provisions for hunting dogs.
  2. Cattle and sheep are grazing animals for the majority of their life.
  3. Feral pigs "are a problem in NSW, QLD and NT. Impacts include pasture damage, water fouling, disease spread and the huge costs of control. Lamb losses of 15% to pigs is common, and can be up to 38%." Factsheet.
  4. On the ground hunting with pig dogs is an effective control method.
  5. But hunting dogs must now be de-sexed, muzzled and kept in an enclosure with a concrete floor.
  6. Just like any other working dog, you want to breed from your best. But if they have to be de-sexed before they even start working - how will this work?

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Swim Between the Flags

As Sydney swelters in 30 degree summer weather, and residents with dogs spend time 'illegally' at beaches, up here on the Central Coast - our flagged area was in the DOG BEACH. What joy! At last though, we have an elected Council in Warringah willing to consider dog owing rate payers' needs.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Dogs on! Sydney Northern Beaches - 2nd post

You can download our briefing document to Warringah here and one page summary here. You are welcome to attend the meeting. Wear red. Need more info? Call, don't email and see previous post. Thanks.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Dogs on! Sydney Northern Beaches

COUNCIL MEETING TUESDAY, 14th October. Notice of Motion No 5/2008

Equitable Access to Community Space for Unleashed Dog Walking and to Beaches for Swimming, Submitted by: Cr Vincent De Luca OAM

That this Council resolves to:

  • Note that 42% of Warringah’s residents own a dog.
  • Note that currently there are no swimming areas available for dogs in the Warringah Council area.
  • That Council officers conduct public consultation with Barking Mad Australia and members of the community as to options for unleashed dog walking and access to beaches for dog swimming and furnish a report to Council within three months regarding results of public consultation and options available.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT: (Must include full name and address to count).

CLICK TO SEND your support to Barking Mad
CLICK TO SEND an email to The Mayor

Barking Mad is ready with a consultation plan and questions, the beach areas we want and the case-law to take away any doubt that Warringah Council has the legislative instrument & imperative to make this happen without the approval of 13 other State agencies.

BARKING MAD is funded by responsible pet owners and carers. If you support what we do for you, please MAKE A DONATION.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Sydney Harbour Picnic: Salty Dogs Day Out

Doggie Play Picnic & Info Day

Harbourside - Under the Suspension Bridge

Sunday, 23rd November 2008
11am – 2pm All invited.

Information about Barking Mad will be available.

RSVP to Kate, (requested but not required).

Mortlock Reserve Tunks Park, Cammeray
For you, your family, friends & pets

How would you feel if you planned a day out with the kids at the park and decide to take the dog too; then you get there to only find a NO DOGS ALLOWED sign?

Come along and show your support for a fair share of public spaces including transport, beaches, parks and accommodation. Gold coin donation for a hot dog & drink.

Our event is in Dog Friendly North Sydney Council. Dogs may be exercised off-leash in all North Sydney Council parks and public reserves, with a few exceptions.

Many thanks to Alan of Walk Syndey Streets fame for this image of the Cammeray Suspension Bridge

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Poo Park Council Event Sunday

Please help us raise awareness. Pittwater Council have generously accommodated us at Dog Day by the Bay - Sunday 28th September from 10am - 3pm,

Thanks to members who are helping out, but we need a few more please. Email if you can help at our stall. Held at Rowland Reserve, Bayview (known as poo park). Poo Park is an excellent example of why having one-only swimming area for the 15,000 local dogs is a really bad policy decision.

Barking Mad, in alignment with the State Plan, the Local Government Act, and the Federal Greenhouse Strategy requires at least 40% of beach areas to be dog-friendly.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Dissenting View and (not) endangered species

I received a very interesting response in regards to the previous post. I am always grateful to people who take the time to write their dissenting view, and even more so when they do it politely and with facts.

First, I must clarify that our assembly at Long Reef Beach in May 2007 said nothing about that area becoming a dog-friendly beach. It was about the requirement of council to provide equitable access to resources for all their residents. The beach is a resource and 40% of Warringah residents have dogs.

Secondly, as I researched the dissenting view offered to, I found errors of fact. Had it been based in fact, it would most certainly been something that we would have to consider and accommodate. HOWEVER, I am willing to be shown that I am in error, and that's why Barking Mad, as a professional lobby association, welcomes those with a dissenting view. Our only requirement is that you can argue your point without arguing people out of a room! But please come to us with research and facts - it will help us create a safe and pet-friendly community that both pet owners/lovers and pet haters can cope with.

While we agree that you and your dog have rights, the endangered species of birds in the wildlife refuge at one end of the beach and the marine sanctuary at the other are incompatible with the rights of you and your dog.

Please be aware that birds will not nest anywhere, or will abandon existing nests, that they can detect dogs have been near. They are endangered, your dog is not.

The marine reserve is home to endangered little penguins who are also very sensitive to the presence of dogs. Already there have been attacks by dogs whose owners are sure that their dog would not do something like this. The doggy ban is there for a reason. C.C,

HERE IS MY RESPONSE AFTER RESEARCHING 'endangered little penguins'.
In my quest for facts, I have researched your assertion that “marine reserve is home to endangered little penguins” and have found it to have no basis in fact. If you can show me otherwise, I would appreciate it.

There are NO
endangered or critically endangered penguins in Australia. There are three species that are vulnerable, which does not include the little fairy. There is one colony of penguins that are an endangered population, and that is at Manly.
Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion, but I must say au contraire and ask for your qualifications. I have an environmental science background.

The doggie ban is for a reason and it’s revenue raising. Shorebird nesting areas are not related to this specific ban. Knowing your shorebirds and their nesting cycle AND their threats may lead you to a more informed response. The constitution, our federation and the High Court are there for reasons too. Think Aboriginal citizenship, Mabo, maybe even suffragists.
Barking Mad supports legislation that protects shorebird nesting areas.

Of course, dogs off leash are a threat to little penguins – but NOT during the day. Also, these are seasonal, albeit a long season, and have must greater risks than dogs.

The other reason for dog bans is that it is much EASIER to get the dog owner than the parent whose youth drinks underage, drives like an idiot, swears constantly in public, likes to graffiti things etc. How many offenses are related to litter – and we all see a LOT more non-poo litter like drink bottles and cigarette butts. How about enforcing the alcohol free zones?

Endangered? We humans are the most endangered with the senseless way we interfere instead of integrate with our surroundings. Think cars and all they have done to our world, think import/export, shipping, mining. Sorry, my dog is down on the list and she is also a 24 x 7 health care worker – maybe even to your parent at a home that you visit once a week. She visits twice a week at least, and provides respite to the under-payed aged care workers as well. The benefits rein.

And just to clarify, my dog does not have rights as she is chattel. People have rights. A lot of animal welfare people want non-human animals to have rights – there is an argument for and against it, of course.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Ultra vires, meaning: Warringah drop dog poo on our Federal Constitution

Manly Daily Article ~~ Barking Mad Media Release (delayed, went sailing & have a Newcastle event Sunday) ~~ Ultra vires definition
Wow, this is hard. How do I explain to you why this lower court judgment favouring Warringah Council is but a drop of water in a bucket, on the wrong field, on the wrong issue? (Trying not to use military analogies...). How do I explain it is yet another example of small-government-syndrome which implies a right to act independently of the principles of our federation?

How to I explain to anyone new to Barking Mad that we are not about dogs or pets, but about our access as pet-owners to a fair-share of public and living space? (Or how CUTE that photo of Pema is...)

And, how do I explain our federal Constitution? (Big sigh). Or how our signing of an international treaty, in this case the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) gives regulatory power to the Federal government OVER State government, when generally, our Constitution is prohibited from such power?
Attempt #1:
  • When a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid. (Section 109 Inconsistency of laws).
  • So, let's take that as an admission that this inconsistency can and does exist. When it does, it's not OK for Warringah Council to act beyond the power of their authority.
  • Because, as stated in the first point, the Commonwealth law prevails.

What is this Commonwealth law that we accuse Warringah Council of shitting upon? In addition to our implied right to political expression, we have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which includes Article 21:

The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Well, our assembly never interfered with these conditions, nor did Warringah argue that we did. (Probably because they don't see Constitutional law applicable to their small-government-syndrome).

In summary we won. After 18 months of winning cases assisting our members in 'baby courts', we finally have one we can appeal to a jurisdiction that sets precedent. As this is a constitutional issue, we are looking at our options in the higher courts. NOW WE ARE BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE. Thank you Warringah. We are THRILLED you read our website and blog and look forward to working with you from the same side of the table.

(PS: Our newly elected Warringah Councillors will table a Notice of Motion for equitable access to off leash walking areas and beaches at the first meeting of Council in late October.)

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Dog is my witness

A dog nicknamed Scooby has become the first animal in the world to appear as a witness in a murder trial. The animal is believed to have been with his 59-year-old owner when she was found hanging from the ceiling of her Paris flat. (source:, image doglaw)

Police believe it was suicide but her family demanded a murder investigation. During a preliminary hearing the pet was led into the witness box by a vet to see how it reacted to a suspect. It is said to have "barked furiously". The aim was to decide if there was sufficient evidence to launch a full murder inquiry. The judge praised the animal for his "exemplary behaviour and invaluable assistance".
This is no surprise for many of us pet owners; we know they are excellent judges of character and they don't need 400 years of legal texts to make their decision!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Beach Dog

Need some fun - too much lobbying with NSW Local Government Elections, change in NSW State Ministry, WA change of government and new Federal Opposition. LET'S GO WALKIES.

The purpose of the proposed assembly:
  • Call attention to the requirement of Newcastle Council by way of the Local Government Act to provide adequate, equitable and appropriate services to the community, and that dog-friendly beach access for 40% of ratepayers with dogs is a service that is not now being adequately provided.
  • Promote the integration of responsible dog owners in society.
  • Demonstrate the health and fitness aspects of exercising on beaches for humans and supervised dogs.
  • Call attention to the hierarchy of governance, Local Government’s lack of a Crown to govern in its own right.
  • Promote peaceful political expression as an implied right in the constitution.
  • Invite Newcastle Council to respect this constitutional right without the need to undermine it by touting council by-laws.

Assembly invitations, details and conditions here.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The 12th leader of the Liberal Party

Since Barking Mad started, our members urged us to contact Malcolm Turnbull for support. We have engaged in repeated contact with Mr. Turnbull, on the federal election, the 2020 Summit, ageing and climate change and the need for public transport and other campaigns. Despite an impromptu meeting face-to-face at Bronte with that silly dog-line, we have yet to receive any response from the man who is now the 12th elected leader of the Liberal Party. Malcolm is known amongst dog owners for his Dog Blog.

Mr. Turnbull: It is time now for you to walk your talk, as well as well as you walk your dogs. We wrote the new leader today:
Will you support federal guidelines to make public transport accessible for the 65% of Australians with pets? We have a draft policy based on the current policy in London. We have national RSPCA support.

We have contacted you numerous times since our work on the dog line, the federal election and the 2020 summit. Please, we request that you walk your talk, not just the dogs. We look forward to working with you. Pets are a health, ageing, public safety and climate change issue. Please contact Barking Mad Equity for Pet Owners.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Life as a Dog or a Lobbyist?

OK, lots of members were not aware of the NSW local government elections. Lots of folks in NSW were not aware of the WA election, or that WA is now the work-horse of our economy. Liberals, Nationals, Labor, Greens and Independents - yes, it can be a bit much when day to day life of family and meals on the table is paramount. However, as a lobbyist representing the 4 million or so responsible pet owners, in addition to our agenda of a fair-share of public space, public transport, strata, renting and holiday accommodation, this is what we've got on the agenda:
  • Change of government in WA, with the Nationals holding the balance of power. We are lobbying the Nats in the belief that they more than any other party will recognise the economic importance of the dog to our communities.
  • Change of leadership and cabinet in NSW government - so we start again with the new ministers relevant to our agenda (ageing, police, health, local government, etc.).
  • Change of leadership in the Federal Opposition - to a professed dog lover. Time to walk more than the dog! Plus, an impending change in his ministry.
  • Working with newly election Local Government councillors in about 35 councils in NSW where we have pet issues affecting members.

All this work? THAT'S WHY BARKING MAD IS OFFERING FREE BEACH-SIDE ACCOMMODATION IN EXCHANGE FOR ADMINISTRATION WORK! If you would like to spend two weeks or more in the bush next to a dog & surf beach, please contact us urgently and provide details of your admin experience and skills!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Local Gov't Election ~ NSW

Barking Mad, represented by Eedra and Pema helped residents 'vote for their families and their dogs' in four NSW local government areas from 8am - 6pm on polling day. (We have members in 59 local governments in NSW). We offered our support to the candidates who acknowledged the importance of pets to our community well being.
A very exciting thing is happening! The political parties are starting to GET:
  • that 42% of voters have dogs and 65% have pets
  • that pet-owners are a demographic that have been un-represented excepting the 'guns, dogs and 4WD' lobby of the Shooters Party
  • that the current laws are not acknowledging the importance of the pet industry that is worth $4.6 BILLION annually
  • that pets are a positive contribution to health and aged care because they are really 24 x 7 health care workers to countless aged pensioners.

Barking Mad has been working hard for about 18 months, and our lobbying is starting to pay dividends. NSW councillors (set your cynicism aside) are starting to recognise that they have a statutory obligation to provide equitable services, including services to pet-owners by way of access to community resources such as beaches, parks and public transport.

Keen citizens with a view to influence policy by getting into local government recognise how easy it is to get the support of pet owners with sensible pet policies. The NSW local government campaign combined with the sudden WA State Election has provided responsible pet owners with a PAW into policy. We are over-joyed with the recognition our policies are receiving (and our push to get NSW Local Government to behave properly as per their requirement under the Local Government Act). These are exciting times. Please, do not miss your opportunity to make a difference. Support the lobby group for responsible pet owners with your $40 membership.

DETAILS: We have done well in this NSW Election. Final results are several days away due to preferences. (Simply clicking on our advertisers will support us financially.)