Sunday, 25 October 2009

Dangeous Dogs and children


If you are an owner of a dog that belongs to a 'dangerous breed' category and you also have a child or a visiting small child please take this as a warning.

Don't leave your dog with a small child unattended under any circumstances!

Only one little moment was enough for this to happen.

Remember - maltese terriers and labrador retrievers have joined the list of dangerous dogs in NSW.

'Every dog has the potential to attack' or should we say every animal? Because the risk of harm to humans from humans FAR exceeds both the risk and real injuries caused by an interaction with a dog.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Feeding the hand that bites you

Are you renting your home? Do you have a pet? If so, then you are in the majority. More homes have pets than don't. Homes with pets are about double in number of homes with children, yet families with children make up the largest demographic of dog owners.

The real estate industry is slow to capitalise on this reality and 'no pets' is frequency seen in adds for rental homes. Many rental applications include questions about your pets. Legally, pets are no different than your TV, toaster or handbag. They are chattel - meaning property, legal property.

Each time a responsible tenant puts a case 'to have their pet' to a prospective landlord, including references for it or offering to pay an additional bond (the taking of which would be illegal), they are feeding the hand that bites them!

I know, it's hard when you need a home, love your pets and are an honest person and a good tenant - but letting someone decide if you are their suitable tenant has no more a relationship to your status as a pet owner, as it does to the brand of your toaster or the size of your TV!

So please, show that you are a responsible tenant, neighbour and pet owner by your actions, not by playing into the hands of the 'no pets allowed' brigdage or by letters written by people who happen to love your pet like you do.

In South Australia, NSW and most other states, there is no prohibition of pets in the residential tenancy laws - and why would there be? When renting, you gain a right to quiet enjoyment of the home for due consideration (rent) and you have a responsibility to act legally, take due care of the property and repair what you break or damage beyond reasonable wear and tear.

The Real Estate Institute of NSW has propagated a rental lease form used extensively and they have added a no pets clause as 'standard'. This is contrary to the residential tenancy law. We recommend you request your lease be based on the Act and Regulations, not the REI form.

We've started a case in NSW challenging the special conditions on a residential lease regarding a dog. This is based on contracting out the right to quiet enjoyment and/or the provision for normal wear and tear and/or a tenants' obligation to return the property in the same condition.

In South Australia, the tenancy tribunal can vary terms if they are found to be harsh or unconscionable. Of course, refusing pets in an otherwise pet suitable home with a good tenant is most unconscionable!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Not happy dog - again

The Barking Mad mascot is not doing much work at the moment - except making sure our vet has enough income to keep his kids in private school! Between her second injury this year and my illness, we're virtually housebound. Lucky we live in the bush by the sea - come and visit - members are welcome.

We did manage to take Pema to her weekly visit to the public hospital. It was PEMA that was in a wheel chair. She got a lot of sympathy and still enjoyed making a few of the patients smile on our short visit.

If you and your dog are suited to volunteer at a hospital, remember that you don't need to be in any special program to do so - at least in NSW. Visit the health section of the website for more information. I like to know that my dog has $10 million liability insurance - which she does through my home contents insurer.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Public Transport - Small dog Big bark

The report from the Senate Inquiry on Public Transport will be tabled in federal parliament on 20 August. Members of Barking Mad contributed 10% of the submissions received - just for us and our dogs. Well done for our small, unfunded lobby group!


Be positive – our submissions for dogs on public transport were a full 10% of submissions received – this is massive! For a tiny, struggling organisation, this is such a great show of our influence.
  1. Write letters to the editor. Use your local paper and the Greens media page for easy access to the media.

  2. Write, call, fax AND email your federal member. If you don’t know your electorate, find it here.

  3. Write to the Greens. We want them to add pet owner access to their public transport policy. Email Bob Brown, party leader and Senator Ludlam, spokesperson for public transport.

  4. HELP AT THE BARKING MAD OFFICE. We are beachside on the NSW central coast in a dog friendly community on a dog friendly beach. Accommodation available and help is desperately needed even for a day (due to my ill-health).

  5. FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE WHO IS WILLING TO CLICK A FEW BUTTONS for our pets. Remember that each letter received by a member of parliament is counted as the view of about 100 voters.

  6. EMAIL DOGS NSW. Suggest they work WITH us (not just plagiarise our work). Transport contact, office contact.

  7. Send a press release. If you can help us get a press release out, or would like to make a donation so that we can hire someone to help, please email me .

  8. Make a donation - $5 or more - we are resourceful and every $ counts. Bendigo Bank, BSB: 633-000, Account: 128910064

  9. AND USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT WITH YOUR TRAINED DOG! Enjoy the community and conversation just because you're joining the masses with a beautiful friend!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Plan to open up Wollongong beaches to dogs

Ok - not just to dogs but dogs AND their loving, joyful responsible owners and guardians! Hooray, they have recognised in the discussion paper the NEED (we say legal requirement under the Local Government Act) to provide services for the 40% of ratepayers with dogs. Wonder where they got that idea from. ;-) Media 1-July Media 6-July

Read the discussion paper and make sure to have your say in the consultation.

I asked a ranger of an adjoining council why dogs were banned from beaches. He said, because of the perception of dog poo litter. I asked him why they didn't ban McDonalds and drink bottles because there is heaps of junk food litter - he said because they don't get complaints. It's a crazy system which forces a regulator to cater to the whingers instead of the PURPOSE of the law they work under - providing equitable, adequate and appropriate services.

Here are some of our initial thoughts - we are still working with members in the area. Barking Mad will be making a submission and I encourage all members to do the same, even if you can't comment on the specific beaches.

Traffic Light System:
Yes, it is much fairer than at present to all community members; recommend changing the orange zone following what Coffs Harbour City Council has in place is already working well for them and is fair to all members of the community. Their traffic light system is again Red – Dogs Prohibited, Green – Leash free areas but the other areas (what would be your proposed yellow areas) are “Dogs are Allowed on a Leash” beaches.
No, anywhere on a lead.

Zero tolerance policy for animal control offences:
Absolutely not. The wording itself offensive – isn’t this the type of wording used against murderers in New York? These are very strong words and should be used in very severe circumstances. If we are talking about the simple, healthy pleasure of walking your dog along the beach this is way over the top. Recommend to encourage tourism dollars via pet owners.

Claiming to maintain a zero tolerance policy is a negligent misstatement. Even if Council DID maintain a zero tolerance policy how can it be justified as an appropriate use of resources?

For example, compare the number of offences for drinking in alcohol prohibited areas to dog on beach, or dog off lead. We know alcohol fuels violence and other anti-social behaviour, so resources should be applied in these areas more.

Time Share
Time share is discriminatory especially towards women and families. It is also a regulatory nightmare. It is only appropriate a main beach in a city.

Specific Comments on W'gong proposal
Managing a community space is about sharing and the present situation allows dog owners 10% of the public beach space when they represent 40% of the community. In fact during the winter times the only people on the beach are dog walkers, surfers and fishers.

Walking your dog on a beach should be encouraged as a healthy way for the community to meet and dogs and owners to socialise. An unsocialised, unexercised dog can create a problem.

One argument many non dog owners seem to sprout is dog poo. Dog owners appreciate the beauty of the beach and want to keep these areas that way. 90% are compliant in picking up dog poo. We are educating the other 10%. Many people are seen also carrying plastic bags with them to pick up other rubbish on the beach. They are an asset to the environment. I

Providing more off leash areas with bins and poo bags is proven to achieve better compliance with the pick-up culture.

Man unpatrolled beaches have become isolated and therefore dangerous since council’s absurd policy of banning dogs and their owners from beaches.

General comments
on urban animal management
Principles – off leash areas should be accessible and proportional to the population, and available resources, such as 40% of the 16km for off leash. The remaining areas should be on-leash areas (excepting the rock pools).

Education should take a larger application or resources than policing to reflect the knowledge established by urban animal professionals.

Any debate as to whether people like or dislike dogs is irrelevant. Like is not a requirement in a pluralistic society. Statute is. The current noise, crime, animal and other relevant acts provide a solid regulatory base to take punitive measures against bad behaviour.

Council would do well to dispel the myth that dog poo is a health or environmental risk. It is not, especially so due to our hot and or dry climate. Council would do well to dispel the myths that vaccinated dogs are better to be around humans. Dogs are not vaccinated for any zoonotic condition. Council would do well to encourage regular worming of dogs. Dogs can create a public safety risk and this needs to be managed in context of all the risks we deal with daily.

Dog litter should not be treated any differently than other litter. Council does not ban McDonalds or Pepsi because of the litter THEY create, so why blame the dog owner if they miss a poo? Doing so can be construed to be vilification.

Council would do well to implement dog-share as a strategy for nuisance barking dogs.

And, above all, remember the ANY dog can go into Dept. of Health facilities, i.e. hospitals, so try not to think that a local council knows more about health then DOH.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Back to Work

Pema is back to being a four-legged dog a few months after surgery. People who see her now comment that she is much brighter and happier then just a couple weeks ago. I don't notice it as much, but I do notice that she is delighted to be back at work delighting people - if only for a moment during their day.

After a visit to a hospital ward, I attended a public meeting about ageing held at a community centre. I arrived early and sat in the back of the room - with Pema. Never alone when Pema is with me in her element (anywhere there is a crowd), other early arrivals made a beeline to doggie and it was all chatty with smiles and a very friendly atmosphere even though none of us (with exception of the dog) had been introduced.

Upon leaving the meeting, and passing by the office of the community centre on our way out, one of the Council staff felt compelled to run out of her office to tell us 'no animals allowed' or some other waste of authority. It was a priceless moment, for at the very same time, an elderly couple came out of a room oppositite and were very vocal about Pema's beauty, sweet face, quiet nature, soft fur, etc. Ms. Council worker quietly shrunk back to her office.

Note: The community centre hosts residents with their pets on a regular basis; people who attend evening meetings such as AA or Weighwatchers bring their pets, and there are shows and classes involving pets. I wish the pet-nazi's would go after litter, public drunkenness and graffiti and not something that is causing no harm while bringing joy to so many people and building community. What would pet-nazi done if the pet was a rat and she didn't SEE it?

. . . The cost of graffiti clean-up across Australia exceeds $300 million a year.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Rebel the Assistance Dog


Visit their blog. Here is the first entry of what will no doubt be a heart-warming, inspiring and sometimes tear-jerking BLOG:

"Rebel and I were reminded today that I am not a person who is trained in how to handle discrimination. When disabled, you sometimes feel more vulnerable, and when people threaten to refuse access, it can be frustrating.

I began to think that maybe a guide for disabled people with an assistance animal on how to advocate their rights would be useful.

Depriving any one of their rights through shallow behavior is the worst thing you could possibly do, doing this to a person with an invisible disability should be prosecuted first by education and then by law."

We recommend the DDLC Users Guide - although in the process of being updated and written for NSW, it is still helpful for people in any state or territory.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Guide Dogs for the Mind

Coming Soon - Because:
20% of Australians have a disability. It could be permanent, temporary, degenerative or just a speed bump on the road of life. It's a social imperative that we provide options so that people affected can attain or retain quality of life and community involvement.

88% of disabilities are invisible.

Again: 88% of disabilities are invisible. That means for every one person you see that you may think has a disability, there are 8 or 9 other people who are dealing with a medical limitation that is impacting on them.
  • Do you need to SEE someone's condition to accept they are living with a disability? If you don't see it do you think it isn't real?
  • Do you think you are qualified to judge if that person has a bona fide dog trained to assist them as part of their treatment?
  • Do you believe that all assistance dogs look like labradors or that a schnauzer would never provide a medical benefit to a person?
Would you be better equipped to accept your neighbours' suicide due to depression than to admit that their dog was an active suicide prevention mechanism?

If you are a service provider - would you prefer refuse a customer or client by stating "No Dogs Allowed" then to recognise that their dog may be keeping them alive?

Vision impairment is about 10% of disabling medical conditions. Assistance animals come in all shapes and sizes. Guide Dogs for the Mind will be bringing together mental health clinicians and dog trainers so that the assistance dogs (a 24 x 7 health care provider) can be legitimised, quantified and accredited in such a way to meet public behaviour expectations.

If you are dealing with a mental health issue whether diagnosed or not - and would like assistance that includes your dog, or acquiring a dog to assist you than you are welcome to contact us now.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Good News for Renters with Pets

Is the often used 'no pets without permission' legally binding?

Did you know there is no such clause in legislation in NSW for residential rentals (excluding Strata Schemes)? That's right. It is a MADE UP CLAUSE - made up by the real estate institute.
  • The law requires a tenant to keep the premises reasonably clean and not to cause a nuisance or annoyance.
  • The law requires the landlord not to interfere with your reasonable peace, comfort or privacy.
If you have an agent or landlord telling you not to smoke inside, or not to have your pet, tell them they are contracting out and contact Barking Mad right away. If you are a good tenant, we can help.

Please see the members area for how to get the rental agreement in the legislation, not the made up one.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

by-laws: keep the dog!

The NSW CTTT Strata Division ruled in favour of keeping 'Oscar' at a unit in Coogee. It was a tricky case where the body corporate twice refused 'permission' to keep a dog and then attempted to change the by-laws during the dispute to block our members' application.

The lesson to responsible pet owners is clear. Persist, do not surrender.

The Tribunal held that the refusal was not reasonable. It clearly ordered that just because there had 'never' been pets, and the refusal of pets has stood for decades, that was not a good enough reason to say NO PETS. In granting the owners' permission, common-sense orders were also made to appease the opposition such as entering or leaving the Strata by the most direct route and cleaning up as required in the common areas.

This is a significant ruling in NSW and we need to keep getting these issues before the tribunal and courts if we are going to accommodate our pets as our homes get smaller and our communities more densely populated. Members page on renting with pets and pets in strata. Read this judgment here.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Barking Dogs - How to Share the Joy

Response to recent media on dogs barking.

I too am frustrated by urban residents who permit their dog/s to bark unnecessarily. Even in semi-rural areas, the sound of a dog barking pierces a quiet, peaceful night. It is no longer accepted behaviour, though it is as organic to some dogs as talking on a mobile phone in public is for some people.

But annoyances should be viewed in context. Unlike the ubiquitous and more annoying car or house alarms, the benefits of the companion dog cannot be underestimated. Though some will abhor the choice of expensive accessories, the economic contribution of $4.6 billion annually from pet owners should not be overlooked. Think about this number the next time our government cancels a $500,000 project to your disgust. Alternatively, consider that this is a greater contribution than fishing/forestry combined. Though fish don’t bark, fishing has its own pros and cons, including beach and sea litter.

Quoting NSW Dept. of Health: Animals visit older people in nursing homes, young people in paediatric wards, trauma victims in acute care wards, and people under care in mental health and palliative care services. They provide comfort, entertainment, distraction, solace and a unique form of interaction. The benefits of these visits are well established and comprehensively documented.

There is no such comparison of an public-health benefit for other urban noise such as alarms, diesel buses, pool pumps, the neighbours air conditioner, etc.

As our homes get smaller, and single-person homes become the majority, the solace and motivation a companion dog provides to get out and walk must not be negated just because dogs bark.

It's said that 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name (SMH Letters, 17 April); I would suggest 10% of dog owners annoy others so much as to blind them to the proven benefits of pet-ownership.

Banning dogs from every public space doesn’t work. In Europe dogs are better-behaved and invited into more community spaces. We live in a pluralistic society; if you are annoyed by a dog barking, why not offer to co-parent or pet-sit, then you can share the joy. If the dog is happier or not alone as much, it’s likely to bark less. If this doesn’t work, for the benefit of us responsible owners, throw the noise-regulation book at them. 'Thou shalt not be annoyed by a nuisance dog' has a place is legislation - truly.

Friday, 17 April 2009

We've gone International

If dogs and cats are bad, a nuisance, not able to live in units, inappropriate if owned by a renter and not suitable to take on public transport and not fit to accompany you on holiday - AS WELL AS A HEALTH RISK, then why are 'assistance' dogs any different, and why are dogs in the EU any different?

We've joined woopets and started a group called Help Make Australia Pet-Friendly. About half of our members have lived overseas or emigrated here. They know how nice it is when public policy reflects public values and recognises the social and economic importance of pets. (Yes, yes, yes...there are laws to deal with the idiots, just like there are for idiot drivers).

We've started forum topics for pets on holiday, in strata, on beaches, in public spaces and on public transport. We hope to get a lot of input and gain a solid understanding of policy in pet-friendly countries.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Plagiarism 101 & Renting with Pets

This post is dedicated to an as-yet unnamed organisation that has given us another legal argument to help remove the 'no-pets' clause that exists for renters in NSW but not in Victoria.

I've been admitted to law school. But I'm having an ethical dilemma. The Course Information Guide states that "One of the most fundamental qualities of a lawyer is honesty." This is not a joke. It then goes on to back this up with two examples - one from 2004 and one from 2007 where lawyers were reprimanded for plagiarism. There is one solicitor for every 500 people in Australia; citing 2 reprimands does not do much to support the premise that a quality, let alone a fundamental quality of a lawyer is honesty. Or am I being too cynical? If so, I refer to the Bush Lawyer Rules, plagiarised from Dr. Greg Ogle and edited by me. The Bush Lawyer
  • is not a lawyer
  • reserves the right to abuse the next person who says "have you thought about being a lawyer"
  • used to be an idealist, but has been made cynical by the legal system
  • thinks "The Castle" is a more important legal source than the rules of the court
  • learns most tricks from the other side or by mimicking "normal" legal practice
  • works till the wee small hours because there are better things to do in daytime
  • can usually be paid with "beers-in-lieu".
Like every legal practitioner, the bush lawyer has ethical standards and rules to work by. These rules are, inter alia:
  • pleadings should be read sober (but affidavits should only be written while drinking Chardonnay)
  • pleadings can be written when drunk, but should be checked in the morning
  • bush lawyer pleadings should contain political arguments - just to annoy the other side
  • the form of pleadings can and should be plagiarised from other cases
  • bush lawyer pleadings should always be longer than those from the other side
  • only use words like "with respect" and "with the greatest respect" in parody, or in the pub afterwards
  • do not refer to the other side's lawyer as my' friend' - they're not
  • always be suspicious of lawyers on your side - they have their own constraints, and you know your case better
  • never accept that lawyers on the other side are simply following instructions - they are an active part of chilling your right to free speech
  • never send a one-page letter to the other side, it is unsporting
  • try to include at least one piece of Latin in any correspondence, it is much more credible than relying on the "vibe of the constitution" (but about as meaningless).

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Quotes of Note or Nonsense

A few quotes of note.

From SMH Heckler: "This Government needs to concentrate on what they were elected to do - they should put more effort into providing services and spend less time imposing draconian penalties for minor, harmless breaches of outdated laws. (Our Note: We emphasise HARMLESS and relate it to a $330 fine for walking your dog on an empty beach at 7.30am in Sydney).

From The Castle movie:
Federal court judge: And what law are you basing this argument on?
Darryl Kerrigan: The law of bloody common sense!

"It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."
"If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologise than it is to get permission."
One of my heroines, a fellow engineer and a co-worker at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) for one amazing year before she died at age 85 in 1992. - Grace Murray Hopper. For several years I was the only female hardware engineer for DEC in Australia - I left in favour of corporate environmental management when things started to go the way of desktop, PC computing. (Oceancare link, computer recycling link, bush walking link)

From the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 1994: "When Admiral Grace Murray Hopper died, the world lost an inspiration to women and scientists everywhere. Her outstanding contributions to computer science benefited academia, industry, and the military." I lost an inspiration too, but of course her brilliance and brazenness (meaning she was not a lady-in-waiting) continue to inspire me. She believed that the decisions of the past were not the best method to choose the way forward. How novel!

Last week I worked on a case to keep pets in a NSW Strata. The owner's corporation objection to the application was based solely on the premise that the past predicts the future. How annoying...but none-the-less we achieved pets in strata, a success no doubt aided by such a illogical argument.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Political Party: Vote Dog-Friendly, Pet Friendly

Barking Mad will be putting up a candidate for the next Senate election. Name our party is back on the agenda - seriously. See previous post.

So, please help with a name (not more than six words).
Here is a start:
  • People and Pets
  • Citizens with Pets (CWP)
  • People with Pets (PWP)
  • Our Families, Our Pets (OFOP)
  • Responsible Pet Owners of Australia (RPOA)
  • Family Pet Reform Party (FPRP)
  • Citizens for Pets (CFP)
  • Family Pet Advocacy Party (FPAT) FP Advisory Party?
  • People/Citizens with Companion Animals/Pets (PWCA, CWCA, CWCP, PWCP)
  • Family Companion Animal Advocacy Party (FCAAP)
  • Pawlitically Correct (huh?)
Funny links: democats, repuppycans - for politically minded pets.
Image from MyDogVotes
AEC Party Registration Handbook
Vote now so you can vote for your pet in the next election.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Another win in court

Remember when we got dragged of the bus and arrested by three pushy cops who were called by the State Transit Officers who didn't even know the regulations they are suppose to enforce?
Daily Telegraphy Story

State Transit pursued their prosecution of me even after the Transport Minister confirmed the regulations. What a WASTE of time and court resources. And they lost, their case was dismissed. Fools? Thugs in uniform? Illiterate? A transit authority that wants LESS passengers on their services in off-peak periods? Back to fools.


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Our most recent day in court

Bias: a personal view that has the tendency to interfere with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced or objective. Bias is not something the general public expects from a judge - or do we?

What a fascinating day! With a full court room waiting for more than 30 minutes past the scheduled start time, a judge walking in late without so much as an apology, a judge with a 'good' reputation, but known to be 'grumpy', a judge with a strong Labor past, we were in for a day of surprises - and a good display of 'grumpy' and 'past'.

If you actually get to have your matter heard on the day it is scheduled, you're lucky (a bit like our hospitals perhaps?) So in that way we were lucky. First up was a team of 4 lawyers and barristers getting their matter adjourned until tomorrow. Took a few minutes and probably cost the clients $5000 combined. As a criminal matter, those clients legal costs may well be paid by the tax-payer!

What would YOU do with $5000? These guys charge for a full day in court, even if the entire day was spent waiting. Can we charge our doctors for the hours we wait?

We've been waiting for this day for nearly two years; since our legal assembly on Long Reef Beach back in May 2007. Without getting technical, our system of government invites and respects protests and criticism (think the Opposition). Even without a bill-of-rights, this expression is long established in case law and even statute. The Right of Peaceful Assembly by R.M. Hope QC.

Barking Mad conducts our assemblies legally - they are 'authorised' by law which means with permission of the commissioner of police. This allows us to express an opinion peacefully, without menace. However, as we've said and continue to say, Warringah has been successfully menacing with us for quite some time.

If an authorised public assembly is held in the way it was approved by the Commissioner, a person is not guilty of any offence relating to participating in an unlawful assembly . . .if done for the purpose of participation. Reference.

PS: 14-April-09 The cost-effectiveness of being a criminal. Our District Court appeal was dismissed so we're off, two years after having a dog on a beach, to the next court up.

And, what everyone has asked about this day in court: It was Judge Finnane who showed us an amazing display of judicial intelligence (or some other term that makes it ok for judges to show what 'normal people' would call bias).

After judgment and before the sentencing, for the purpose of leniency, I was explaining my extensive environmental contributions in the fields of organic waste, composting, corporate environmental management and computer recycling . But I was interrupted with the rhetorical question: HOW CAN YOU BE FOR DOGS IF YOU ARE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST - DOGS DEFECATE, DOGS BITE. And I said, we defecate too, every day if it's a good day! (And I'm not sure how you eat your steak, but I like to bite mine). We await the transcript. We point you the reader to all about dog poo...

Read the continuing story and our very exciting next action on the members web.

Friday, 20 March 2009

New poster and membership form

Download our brochure and membership form and let your friends know that we CAN create pet-friendly communities.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Not Happy, Dog

Well, here is Pema two days after surgery and after her first full day at home in recovery. I'm adjusting to being nurse. I had the privilege of spending time outside under the stars and as the full moon was rising over the ocean at 3am today, thanks to the toilet needs of dog. It was really quite pleasant and I'm sure 6 weeks of on-lead will perfect her toileting on command. There has to be a positive in all this somewhere?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Dog off Duty - Pema

Only last week I was finally able to articulate the crux of the work of Barking Mad. I refer to the precise argument that each and every matter dealing with access for pet owners can be distilled to, which is:
It's easier to make bold, unsupported, unrelated claims and follow those with policy decisions than it is to use a scientific method which delivers a logical and relative outcome.
I arrived at this crux while researching the pets on public transport briefing document that argues for a policy just like the one in London and continues our bible-bashing thread of 'regulate for societal benefit, not for intolerant people who complain'.

Today I learned that the origin of the word crux is from 1635-45 Latin meaning cross - as used in executions. At the same time, I learned that cruciate has the exact same origin.

And I learned the word cruciate today because Pema has been hopping around on three legs since having a jubilant play on the beach with a two other dogs on Friday morning. Ouch, she said...and stopped playing. Ouch, I said worrying simultaneously about her health and our finances. And we hobbled back to the car with me carrying her some of the way. Today our vet diagnosed that Pema has torn her cruciate ligament. The anti-inflammatory medication has made her much brighter as she hops around; and I have to choose what type of surgery she will be having (and find a way to pay for it). Pema is a working dog with a lot of jobs - looking after me, weekly visits to a medical ward in a public hospital, visits to a aged care hostel and a dementia unit, our mascot, the sook at Parliament House and more. Exactly one year ago, after being in the Mardi Gras parade, I got rid of the pram I used to put Pema in. (The point being you could take a dog anywhere if it was in a pram and not obvious!) It looks like we'll need a pram again for her 4-10 week post-op rehab, all going well. It's frightening, and the irony that she can get surgery this week and a public hospital patient may well have to wait months, is not lost on us.

So there you have it - the cross we bear.

Please make sure to contribute to our pets in advertising campaign.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Sponsor Wanted: Dogs in Advertising

It's really annoying to see how companies who can afford advertising use dogs to sell their product or service. It's annoying because these dogs are often in places where 'no dogs are allowed.' It's annoying because a false impression is created, such as a new housing development in Randwick Council showing an off-leash dog playing on the adjoining beach. Even the TV series Home and Away has dogs on the beach where us normal folks are told not to The last Federal election had an off-leash dog on the cover of the election guide, in 2008 and 2009 dogs have featured in Reg Mombassa's classic images created for Australia Day.

So, help us compile this list. We're going to target these organisations for sponsorship and to advertise honestly!
  1. Tropical Pineapples No kidding, click to view the TV ad.
  2. XXXX Beer - off leash dog on beach, near pub. View.
  3. More Beer - view
  4. And More Beer - dogs in the pub.
  5. A VW CAR - view
  6. Softdrink - view
  7. Electricity Supply - view
  8. A shipping company.
  9. Paint. And another one from Hungary.
  10. Toilet Paper.
  11. Warringah Council web site - dog off leash walking on track in an area where rangers regulatrily issue fines.
  12. Warringah council - had a dog on beach photo on the web until the day before Barking Mad's assembly at Curl Curl Beach.
  13. Channel 7: Home & Away - dog on beach in Pittwater Council.
  14. Still more Beer (USA)
  15. Yes, more Beer, very funny.
  16. Another Car
  17. A vacuum! (USA)
  18. Insurance (Queensland), also funny. Thanks for sending this one to us!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Stupid Dog Laws - yet another example

Transport with pets in Australia:

Dogs and other pets are allowed on metro trains in Melbourne, but not on buses.

Dogs are allowed on buses in NSW, but the majority of bus drivers don’t know their own regulations.

In Queensland, the Regulations permit a passenger to bring an animal on a bus with the driver’s permission. However Translink decided that only approved assistance animals are allowed.

Queensland claims that pets present a risk – but they haven’t done a risk analysis!

Although dogs are allowed on buses and ferries in NSW, they are not allowed on trains.

Yet they are allowed on trains if the dog provides ‘therapeutic benefit to its owner or another person’. Most dogs provide this.

RailCorp goes one better, requiring an annual pass for an Assistance Dog with medical proof of a disability (of the person), and proof of toileting on command (the dog, we hope.)
  • RailCorp further outdo themselves by prohibiting an animal to drink water on the train OR at the station. Logically it follows, that dog is not allowed to wee on railway property either.
It gets better – dogs, actually animals, are not allowed onto railway land. A level crossing is railway land. Don't let your sheep or cattle cross the tracks. Even disused tracks like the Cooma-Bombala line are still railway land.

Sydney Monorail and Metro Light Rail allow dogs, cat, birds or other animals and they sign-post it.

Most private ferries and punts in NSW welcome pets, with operators stating they are usually better behaved then children.

Barking Mad has correspondence from the NSW Transport Minister and the Director General stating pets are permitted at the discretion of the driver/operator. This discretion is a rare display of common sense that considers the cleanliness and control of the animal. Similar considerations for letting people on board are taken all the time!

Monday, 2 March 2009


Sometimes it takes a while to find your friends or to find out who your friends really are. We've found quite a friend - called Manimalis!

Manimalis believes that all people have the right to be close to animals in any stage of life, as long as the animal is properly cared for and does not disturb those who do not wish to be close to animals.

They are a Scandinavian organisation working to increase awareness of companion animals' positive effects. "Manimalis strives to create a society that is planned and designed with the specific needs and desires of pet owners in mind". Sounds quite a bit like the work of Barking Mad to create safe and pet-friendly communities.

It was founded in 1989 (the year Barking Mad's proprietor (that's me) met the shores of Australia having crossed the Pacific by yacht to participate in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race). The name Manimalis, is an abbreviation of Man and Animal in Society.

Manimalis is sponsoring the People and Animals: For Life conference in Stockholm 2010. This is the 12th conference for IAHAIO. I.A.WHO? That's the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations. Barking Mad needs to be with I.A.Who....

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Good, the Dog and the Ugly

We have draconian dog laws. Dog on an empty beach at 7am with their responsible owner is fined more than parking in a pedestrian crossing in school zone! It does not make sense and such a fine does not take into account the REAL risk or public nuisance factor.

Barking Mad has been researching for our public transport briefing/policy document. Are pets a public health risk; and if so, how? What about allergies, and how important it is to consider this with pets on public transport and in public spaces? I prefer logic to rhetoric, though the latter (think talk-back radio, MirandaNotDevine, media that makes an emergency out of everything) gets much more airplay. Often that rhetoric turns into public policy, and that is good for no-one in the long term.

I've had this data to hand for some time, and with hesitation, I now put it out to you, the reader. A child is at a greater risk of harm from their parent than from a dog. More children die at the hand of their parent than by a dog each year; a tragic but politically repulsive fact.

Each year about 300 Australian children (aged 0-14 years) are killed and 60,000 hospitalised by unintentional injuries (accidents). 75% of these come from just four causes: car crashes, pedestrian accidents, drowning and house fires. (Children under 5 and the elderly are at the greatest risk from a dog related injury, so appropriate measures are still required).

If we followed the numbers about risk logically we would ban the car, ban walking where we have cars, ban swimming pools and access to the ocean and water if we want to keep our children immune from risk. Although we have fenced most of our rail tracks in urban areas, we have yet to fence around every other risk. Logic is not the main driver of legislation.

Death resulting from dog-related injury is a rare event. During the seven year period 1997–2003, 11 deaths were registered as being due to this cause.

Reports on the number of lives saved, such as a relatively common event of a dog alerting an owner to the presence of a venomous snake, or barking at an intruder would be useful for comparison, but this data is not available. The story of a dog protecting a child from an Eastern Brown Snake can be found here and a similar story of a dog and an adult here.

It is important to consider the public health risks of pets, dogs in particular, in context. The media has been the dog’s worse enemy, creating public outcry that some short-sighted politicians have responded to with poorly thought out laws. Consider:

Abuse, Crime
  • 6 people are killed, by people, each week – a total of 319 in 2006
  • 465 people are assaulted by people each day; that’s 171,000 in 2006
  • 50 people are sexually assaulted every day; 18,211 a year.
  • 331 people are violently robbed each and every week
  • In 2006, there were 207,446 incidents of violent crime, over 550 each day.


  • 1616 people died on our roads in 2007 including 41 cyclists and 201 pedestrians. That is more than 4 deaths for each day of a year.


  • There are 1000 heat-related deaths a year.
  • 400 people die a year from Asthma and in W.A. the Premier claimed that 150 people die a year while waiting for a hospital bed!
  • In the most recent data, 134 babies died a year from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Manage the public health risks of pets in context. The media has been the dog’s worse enemy, creating public outcry that some short-sighted politicians have responded to with poorly thought out laws.

Friday, 20 February 2009

My dog, my pet, my property, my responsibility - paws off

We work for the rights of responsible pet owners to live a normal life.

We've had a lively conversation here about public access rights for pets on PUBLIC transport.

Let's look at renting with pets.

In Australia, there are commonly used tenancy agreements claiming to be prepared in accordance with tenancy law. From my research, I can't ever see this premise being tested.

In NSW, these agreements state that an animal or bird can not be kept at the premises UNLESS PERMISSION IS OBTAINED. (No such clause is in the legislation). Think about this. The law gives the tenant full right of access to the property as long as they pay rent, act legally and behave.

Dogs are chattel - full stop. In other words, they are no different than a handbag, briefcase or a pair of shoes. So why are renters are being told to ASK and OBTAIN PERMISSION to live with their dog or cat? Legally, it is the same as having to ask if we can have a pink handbag with matching pink shoes in the home we are renting.

What's chattel? Chattel is an item of personal property which is movable. It can be bought, owned, sold and stolen. The dog or cat is owned in law by its owner or politically correctly, its guardian. Because Barking Mad works with responsible pet owners, we will presume that we all legally own our pets meaning we register them as required by our local regulatory authority.


I ask for your thoughts - and please consider the following:
  • Residential tenancy laws hold the tenant liable for damages they cause - from pets, kids, parties, accidents or negligence.
  • Dog laws hold the owner responsible for actions of a dog.
  • Nuisance laws cover bad bahaviour, which may include a barking dog.
  • Animal protection laws cover cruel pet behaviour, such as keeping too many animals or not providing adequate care. (Isn't is cruel to deny housing to a responsible pet owner?)
  • Strata laws require a 'good reason' to deny keeping a pet. An example of a good reason would be a strata complex for people with asthma where someone wants to keep a cat.
  • Rental laws do not have this 'good reason' logical clause.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Senate Inquiry into Public Transport - submissions closing soon

Greens launch Senate Inquiry - Have your say on Australia's Public Transport

Submissions are due by Friday 27 February 2009

Details - terms of reference and how to make submissions.

Barking Mad will be making a submission based on our draft policy. We've had quite a lively debate on this blog about pets on public transport and our proposed 'doggie license' that provides training for dog and handler so that when passed, allows a dog into more public spaces.

You can download our draft Senate submission and Georgie's transport story (Georgie in the bag in this photo) here.

The Greens want to increase the use of public transport; here are some of their media releases:
Government should not waste opportunity to create sustainable cities

Greens turn up the heat on transport

Greens: PM should boost public transport spending

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Bushfire Pet Assist

If you would like to make a donation toward helping dog owners and their pets who have been affected by the bush fires, here are some suggestions:

Animal Aid - The Victorian Animal Aid Trust is providing free vet care and supplies for cats, dogs, horses, goats, etc. Make a financial donation at Bendigo Bank or supply badly needed hay or oaten chaff.

Fun4Paws - Offering homes for emergency care for dogs.
Accepting cash donations via bank deposit.

Lort Smith Animal Hospital - Pets caught in the cross fire.
Accepting donations of pet food, blankets and money to support their provision of free vet care and foster care.

RSPCA Victoria
Please check their website for the latest updates and needs.
Make a financial contributions and donations of pet bedding, food and animal care-packs.

DOGS Victoria Bushfire Appeal
Support the appeal financially, offer pet accommodation and participate in the International Virtual Dog Show.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Our Families, Our Dogs

The media reported as follows: "Dave Twentyman plays with his dogs in the blackened landscape left by the bushfires at Steels Creek. Picture: Stuart McEvoy."

At a loss for words with the devistation of familes, homes, businesses, livestock and entire towns, I can only comment on the media's realistic reporting of the importance of the family pets in such a disaster.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Hot Dogs in the Adelaide Heatwave

As Sydney is stuck on 30C degrees, the Queensland coastal area is flooding, Melbourne had several 43 degree days until a cooling change last night and Adelaide has had more 40 degree days in a row since records were kept, I found this gorgeous picture of titled "Roxy is no longer a hot dog" at

All I want to say is GET DOGS ON BEACHES!!!! Most of us live in the 'coastal fringe'. We are told to SWIM BETWEEN THE FLAGS. We have thousands of kilometres of coastline and endless remote or empty beaches and we want our dogs AND our human family at the beach together. We're a beach culture - our dogs should be able to be at the beach with us and we'll compromise by keeping them on a lead or away from crowded or flagged areas!

I live 30 seconds' walk from a dog-friendly ocean beach. Sometimes it's just too scary, maybe dangerous for me to swim at my beach, so I walk a few minutes to one of two patrolled areas. But these areas are usually not in the dog beach area - but in a strong NE swell the flagged area is in the dog area - OH JOY!

Many dogs sit on my beach and wait while their owners surf. Other dogs play with visiting dogs while their owners swim. This beach has lots of holiday houses, so throughout January the beach and lagoon is full of kids, families, dogs, surfers and fishers. It's gorgeous and it all works. A few of us 'full-time' residents noticed that A LOT more 'tourists' brought their dogs this year. It seems that having dog-friendly beaches, and dog-friendly/family beach houses is the way to attract tourists and visitors. We even welcome dogs on the ferry from Palm Beach to the Cental coast.

It's been a gorgeous summer and a joy to meet all the visiting dogs from Sydney. I even saw two Labradors the other day that had never been in the ocean before. Sydney, and other coastal suburbs that try to ban dogs from beaches, are cruel. Cruel to Animals - isn't there a law against that?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Members Only

Barking Mad is for responsible pet owners. There are more than 6 million pet owners in Australia and about 3.5 million dog owners. More households have dogs than children, and the largest demographic of dog owners is homes with children 16 and under.

We started this lobby group in 2007 on the hope of achieving membership from the crème de la crop of pet owners, the pick of the bunch, the 5-10% of dog owners willing to annually fork out $40, less than the cost of a bag of good dog chow, to support a full-time lobbyist. This has not been achieved.

I am sorry to say that I can no longer work for the 'greater good', and I need to move to a 'members only' model. I'm dealing with health issues that have reduced my work capacity to 10%. If you feel so inclined, please join as a member. If you have skills to offer to keep our lobby group active, email. Thank you. Eedra

Thursday, 8 January 2009

We need to find Stuart - do you know him? He is hiding. . .

Do responsible pet owners REALLY need a lobby group? Does any other Australian industry that contributes nearly $5 billion per year to the economy not work with government for fair policy? Is a $40 membership too much to ask? Or do we let Stuart make policy and influence public opinion. Gotta love Stuart; but will he IDENTIFY HIMSELF and help us create safe and pet-friendly communities that incorporate his need (or need to whinge)? That's our challenge to him - come forward citizen!

We well know Stuart will find it very easy to complain and very hard to make change. HELP US FIND STUART! (And PS Stuart, humans are animals too.)

Stuart has left a new comment on your post "What is acceptable behaviour?":
Dogs ARE NOT part of the PUBLIC - they are animals and have no right to be on public transport of any kind. I will not share a train carriage or bus with a dog - they smell, they defecate and pee whenever and wherever they want, they can be vicious.

This campaign of yours comes from a position that assumes dogs are equal to humans - they are not - they are animals and there are far too many of them. Far too many owners are:
  • irresponsible
  • do not pick up their dogs poo
  • do not obey regulations pertaining to keeping their dog on leads, which has personally caused me injury after hitting a dog not on a lead while cycling.
My local park is covered in dog poo but I get abused by owners if I dare to suggest they pick up their dogs poo or put it back on a lead. Dogs are not people - get a grip you lot and keep your dog on a short lead, off public transport, out of restaurants and cafes and pick up its poo.

Come on out Stuart. What is your local park and who are you? And will you work with us or are you simply a (simple) whiner? Don't ducks and other birds, possums, rats, koalas, kangaroos, cows, pigs, sheep and human babies poo/wee whenever or wherever they want or have I missed Stuart's training of these animals?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

No chocolate or macadamia nuts

DOG NIGHT at the movies - in Australia, not Austria like our previous report of movie night for dogs.

If you would like to attend and meet up with other Barking Mad members, just email me. I'll send your details to other members in your city who have sent me their details.

You can ALWAYS bring your well-behaved dog to Moonlight Cinema, at least in Sydney; that's right, every screening, not just dog night. (Just like you can take "any" properly behaved dog to visit hospital or aged care patients (NSW) without involving payment to a charity, or for you to travel for 'special' training, or subject your dog to excessive testing....but I digress...again.)

Centennial Parklands Home - Sydney Moonlight Cinema

Moonlight Cinema - City Specific Site (change city at bottom right of page)

Friday, 2 January 2009

Just A Dog, Just a New Year, Just Celebrate

"From time to time, people tell me, lighten up, it's just a dog, or, that's a lot of money for just a dog. They don't understand the distance travelled, the time spent, or the costs involved for just a dog.

Some of my proudest moments have come about with just a dog. Many hours have passed and my only company was just a dog, but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by just a dog, and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of just a dog gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's just a dog, then you will probably understand phases like just a friend, just a sunrise, or just a promise. Just a dog brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. Just a dog brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

Because of just a dog, I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it's not just a dog but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

Just a dog brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day. I hope that someday they can understand that it's not just a dog but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a human."

So the next time you hear the phrase just a dog. Just smile, because they just don't understand. By Richard Biby

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Training and busing with our dogs - Column 8 continued

Column 8 Today - Sydney Morning Herald
"Fixing RailCorp's grammar (December 23) might be of academic interest," comments Richard Ure, of Epping, "but the point raised by Eedra Zey from Woy Woy in Friday's Column 8 is more fundamental.
  • If a dog is not allowed on a level crossing, how about a horse?
  • Or a mob of sheep crossing a line in the bush?
  • Or a dog in a ute?
  • For city folk, how about a dog, or any animal, caged or otherwise, crossing railway station concourses at places like Epping, Eastwood, Chatswood, Meadowbank and many similar urban crossings?
RailCorp owes us guidance. Or does it just want the fine?" We, too, cry out for guidance from RailCorp, in these troubled, uncertain times.

Dec 23
About the 'No pets not allowed' State Rail business of Friday," writes Teena Hughes, of Rozelle: "I was thinking that perhaps a shiny new comma or full stop could make this poster make sense. As in, 'No, pets not allowed', or, 'No pets. Not allowed'. I suggest everyone who travels near these signs can fix them immediately by adding either one - we'll leave it up to the public, shall we? Take a black marker pen with you, just in case.