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.