Thursday, 31 January 2008

A Fine Dog Ticket

Some time not too long ago in our Australian history, a dog ticket was a ½ price fare for your dog. Also in those times, many dogs were not vaccinated or de-sexed and most had fleas in the warmer weather.

Yet now, a dog ticket is what the uniformed men in grey with boots and mace give you when pooch is resting on the floor under your feet – taking up no extra space, and it’s $100.

These transit police were the nicest uniformed men I’ve met in a long time. They didn’t want to give me ticket; they wanted to give me warning. I received the ticket joyfully and was just about to tell them about Barking Mad but their station had arrived and they had to leave. 'Don’t go', I said, after they had both declared themselves dog lovers. 'But we have too, sorry'. They took the Barking Mad card with them and thanked me.

I received a ticket for doing what every Australian should be able to do –travel in an environmentally friendly way using PUBLIC transport, with their quiet, clean and well-behaved pet. Off to court we go. Read about our pets on public transport policy and lobbying here.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

I take it for granted

I must, because the people I know in Sydney with dogs just don't experience the joy and delight their dog provides like I do. In no way am I saying my joy as a dog-guardian is any less than anoyone elses, it's just that everyday I walk on the ocean beach with dog, and most Sydney beach-side dwellers don't get to do that 'legally'.

Today the waves were big, the tide high, the clouds low and the lagoon was opened by the sea. People watched in awe as pressure waves rolled into the lake. And then their was William and Indy; a guy and his Australian Koolie. So simple, just sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in with endless talk about dogs and the surrounding beauty.

Observation of these last six months on the beach shows me that most of the people chatting are doing so with dogs. People without dogs cross each other on their walk and keep going. If the 300 people who die alone in NSW each year had dogs, would these people have died unnoticed and left to rot with neighbours just next door? My bet is that a dog would have put up a heck of ruckus if its owner stopped moving!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Dear Abby

We are Barking Mad. We wrote to Abby Rudd - yes, the DOG - at the Lodge. Read our letter here, it's been smell-checked by Pema before we sent it. We figure she is top dog now, and a non-labor voter in the post-office today told me Keven Rudd went up in her opinion after she saw the photo of him with Abby! It's all political - dogs here, no dogs there - is there any common sense?

We urged Abby to get her pack leaders to pay attention to the big (meaning federal) issue that is PETS. Why? Because companion, assistance and working dogs are a positive contribution to health, ageing, public safety, our heritage and more.

We anxiously wait our reply with paws crossed. Are you tired of seeing no-dogs allowed signs? Sign up to our letter writing team. (We usually write people, not dogs in case you are concerned about our sanity). Each letter can count for the view of 100 voters and that's good for dogs.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Fail to prevent cruelty

Recently, a NSW man was convicted of "FAILING to PREVENT an offence under the Cruelty to Animals Act". (Cockfighting case, 15 Jan). This opens up a range of options to deal with people who knowingly allow cruelty to occur. Funny how chickens are exempt from this law.

Councils with draconian restrictions on where owners can take their canine best friend also lead to cruelty as dogs are left alone more and more (with smaller homes in physical size and number of people).

They then can bark and end up being less-socialised then their European counterparts who can enjoy parks, transport and pubs with their owners. In other words, by restricting dogs from so many public places we are isolating them and creating problems for residents and dogs.

The dangerous dog act goes so far as to declare an owner guilty under proven otherwise. An untrained council officer can declare a dog dangerous and have it penned up in a concrete flooded enclosure not to be let out. They can do this without any animal experts involved and by believing hearsay stories. Sounds like Guantanamo and that does not have a reputation of making better humans! Research shows a strong correlation between how humans treat pets and animals in general, which negative behaviour towards animals also targeting the human animal.

It is legal to keep cats and dogs as pets and Barking Mad will work with as much vigour as those willing to confront whaling in our territory. The issue is the same, the moral debate on keeping pet or killing whales is a separate issue.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Click to Make our Community Pet-Friendly

I hope you have all received our email from our new database; it's an expensive email database system so I hope it provides a worthwhile service to members. PLEASE do click the links and send a letter to the members of parliament we are lobbying. Just like your membership, each letter counts for 100 votes. This email system allows us to view the click-throughs so we can have an idea of how much mail our politicians are receiving from Barking Mad members and supporters. I hope at least 50% will spend the few minutes to send an email so we can make more pet-friendly communities - faster!

Your action is needed now to:

  • support more off-lead dog parks in Sydney

  • to create a national public transport policy for us and our pets

  • bring common sense to Local Government dog laws
  • help make Barking Mad financial - donate (small amounts help too) or find us a sponsor

Monday, 14 January 2008

Dogs are a Federal Issue

The Labor government has identified companion, assistance and working dogs as a positive contribution to:

  • physical health (walking)
  • mental health (socialisation and caring)
  • ageing (safety and socialisation)
  • safety in the home (an early warning system to intruders)
  • public safety (police statistics show people out walking reduces incidents of street crime and those with dogs are less likely to be the victim of an assault)
  • boosting the immune system of children age 2 and under when exposed to animals
  • our heritage (the dog was an essential companion and worker to the Aboriginals and the European pastoralists).

The next three to six months are very important for our work and for our vision of a safe and pet-friendly society. Kevin Rudd's team is back from the holiday they didn't really have and Barking Mad is back from a lucky holiday we did have. Each bullet point provides the new federal government with an easy win; it's not rocket science. Dogs (and pets) are important to our heath, our ageing community, public safety etc.

Sure, the media can sensationalize the incidents of aggressive dogs, but it pales when compared to the violence of human to human, and sadly by comparison, parent to child. These are politically unfriendly facts.

Members – we will be contacting you. If you have offered your assistance in any way, please expect a phone call from us. Every member who wants to be involved needs to meet with their state and federal representatives by the end of March. Every member who is able to contribute the time we need behind the scene to guarantee change will sign-up to the letter writing team.

If you are member who likes more direct action, please help us organize our next public rally (Sydney) on the 31st of March.There is MUCH to be done. Get involved if you can and if not, please stay informed and help build our membership base.

Barking Mad is off to court on the 15th of January to challenge Warringah council doggie fine in an area in which they have no jurisdiction. We're travelling by train (yes, of course, with dog), so it should be a great day.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Dog Fines are not Fine

Barking Mad has been assisting members challenging dog fines. We do this when we view the fine as ‘stupid’ because these people are acting responsibly with their pet, but not strictly following what their local council would like them to. We keep winning – and that is actually a problem. We need to lose so we can get these matters to higher courts where precedents are set. If you’re one of the people who has gone through the process of challenging a stupid dog fine, you know how emotionally, financially and time draining it is. It isn’t easy – but is that a reason to be apathetic?

Each time we as dog owners accept something we feel is wrong – be it a fine for dog off lead BUT under effective control (often evidenced by the ability to walk a well-trained dog near a busy road and trust that it won’t bolt into the traffic), or dog in prohibited place because you’ve taken your toddler and your dog to the local playground, we support the dog laws as they stand today.

Many pet owners have no problem with the laws as they are. To them, being a member of Barking Mad has no value; we respect this. The changes Barking Mad proposes will not impact on their happiness. Barking Mad’s short term goal is to have 10,000 members (nationally) by the time the NSW Parliament sits in 2008. Critical mass – it’s a critical philosophy when applied. Legislation ALWAYS lags pubic opinion. That’s why dramatic actions are required at certain times. As a society, we want a human face behind changes in the laws – we don’t want facts and figures. Ask any lobbyist, they will confirm that this is the fact of our society.
If you want more access for you and your dog (or cat) – to housing, transport and public amenities, and you are not a member of Barking Mad, then don’t complain about the current situation.

No other organisation in Australia directly represents the rights of pet owners on a state and federal level. Your paid-up membership represents at least 100 votes – it’s a powerful lobbing tool. We have things happening on a federal level and on a state level in NSW and Queensland.

Do you really want a law that requires you to leave your well-trained dog at home when you go out on a summer’s night with your family for a meal? What about when your car breaks down and you can’t get a bus or taxi home because you have your dog with you?

Responsible owners will make responsible choices about where they want their dog to accompany them. A funny example was at the first Barking Mad conference on 700 acres of dog friendly space. Within 5 minutes we had banned dogs from our meeting and set them outside to play. This was an appropriate place for them to run free.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Sydney Morning Herald Today

Run around unleashed is a provocative headline that does not adequately describe a dogs behaviour in an off-lead area. I live on a dog beach and all summer it is crowded with holiday-makers, their children and their dogs. At any time of the day, dog will most likely be sitting next to the family while the child plays in the water.

Overly boisterous behaviour is directly related to how well-socialised the dog is. Restricting owners and their dogs from public places IS A PROBLEM IN ITS OWN MAKING. In other words, laws the prohibit our companion to BE OUR COMPANION cause problems such as over-excitement when (finally) let out for a romp, and barking when left behind.

Many types of dogs are a perfectly suitable pet for units with larger breads commonly being more docile then the white fluff’s. Dogs in high-density, cultured cities such as New York or most European capitals will know how to behave in public, because they are socialised.

A responsible parent will remove a tantruming child from a public restaurant so as not to be a nuisance. A responsible dog owner will choose where and when off-leash is appropriate. Although my dog is a well-trained assistance animal, I will not let her off the lead by a road, yet, we see many dogs walking quietly by their owners along busy roads.

Our own office of local government (NSW) states the majority of dog owners are responsible. Sure there are those who have a vastly different view of ‘responsible’ than you may have, but so too are there wild children, noisy neighbours, irresponsible drivers (and parkers). A vibrant society accepts frustrating annoyances, appreciating the diverse choices we have.
  • Many more families have dogs than children.

  • The City of Sydney proposal is talking about 14% of parks when 42% of homes have dogs (and 30% children).

    Most dogs have $10,000 liability insurance thanks to their home contents policy
  • Laws are there to deal with the irresponsible owners.
  • There is no such thing as the Youth Offenders Act for dogs. This law allows our juveniles to get away with all manner of crimes for dogs, but if a dog graffities your wall - it will be declared dangerous and locked up in a concrete pen for the rest of its life!

Stop maligning the domestic dog; our country would not be what it is today without the dog. Aboriginals kept them as pets and protection and Europeans used them to manage sheep and cattle. Good working dogs for yard and paddock work can sell for $20,000.

The Australian Medical Association attributes dogs to better health and the police credit dogs as protection for the elderly and those living alone or hearing impaired. Also, dog walking is shown to reduce incidents of street crime.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Support proposed dog friendly parks

Support the City of Sydney and Clover Moore. Increasing off-leash spaces for dogs in the city parks. Click here for details and please make your comments by 1 February. This is our chance to have a louder voice then the anti-dog folks.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Our year, our companions & our family: maybe

Our year: our companions & our families. M A Y B E Are you reading this as a pet owner or pet-lover? Are you not yet a member of Barking Mad? If you want more access for you and your pets then join Barking Mad - it's not your small membership $ contribution that will make the changes, it is the fact that your membership counts for the views of 100 people. And that is how laws are changed. We have support in NSW Parliament and in the federal government - to raise the profile of the CONTRIBUTION pets make to our health and well-being. Do you want change? We can achieve it. We can differentiate ourselves as responsible pet owners - the laws are there to take care of those who are not responsible.

We don't ban everyone from driving because 1500 people are killed each year. The NSW office of Local Government credits 99% of dog owners as responsible. We think it may be more like 90%, but either way, we should not be penalised due to actions of a few - that's what the regulators should look after and we should be able to choose responsibly when and where we would like to take our companions with us. For example, you don't go to a family pizza restaurant early in an evening if you don't want to be around noisy kids. It would be a sad society that doesn't allow noisy kids in a family restaurant. Also, you don't have to go to a beach that is shared with families and dogs if you don't want to be around dogs - go to a different beach.

A healthy society is full of choices - and respect for others choices as well. Don't be part of the problem. Barking Mad is the only lobby group for pet owners. Join - it's easy.