Domestic Animal Management Plan City of Greater Geelong draft 2013 2017 table of contents



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NUISANCE

Outline programs, services and strategies to minimise the potential for dogs and cats to create a nuisance.



Current Situation


With a current registered dog and cat population of 45,876 the City experiences significant cat and dog nuisance complaints. With continued population growth, pet numbers will generally expand. Unless a range of measures are adopted and put into place, nuisance complaints will increase affecting the well being of the community. There was a slight drop in the total dog incidents for 2012. (See Dog Attacks for more information)

Each of Council’s Animal Managements Officers (AMOs) is responsible for community education and compliance patrols in a specific geographic area of the municipality. In some areas such as the Barwon River, Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads these patrols are undertaken in conjunction with the relevant land managers of the area who have established the dog controls – e.g. Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Barwon Coast Committee of Management and under discussion with Bellarine Bayside Foreshore Committee of Management. During August – March the coastal dog control regulations (Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads and Breamlea) change to protect the Hooded Plover during its breeding season.



Council introduced the brand of ‘Lead the Way’ encouraging pet owners to demonstrate Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO), setting examples by being a pooper scooper, addressing barking dog problems and as a reminder to always walk your dog on a lead. ‘Lead the Way’ will continue in future campaigns, communications and advertising.


Dog Incidents

2009

2010

2011

2012

Menacing & rushing dogs

306

318

376

289

Dog attacks

163

182

117

177

Dogs at large

2981

2820

3435

3635

Barking Dogs

473

463

603

404

Total Dog Incidents

3923

3783

4531

4505



Cat Incidents

2009

2010

2011

2012

Cat impounds by Council

645

1185

1050

645

Cat Impounds by Other (handed in)

1627

1669

1279

1154

Total Cat Incidents

2272

2854

2329

1799



Community Feedback

  • 34% of respondents had experienced barking dog problems

  • Only 24% believed the cat curfew program had been effective



Council’s Dog in Public Places Policy

Under the 2008 DAM Plan, Council developed and adopted relevant dog control orders to provide pet owners with the information on where they could walk their dog/s on and off-leash.

Through the number of community complaints and incidents including dog attacks, menacing and rushing dogs, and dog litter controls, there is an indication that dog owners were having difficulty in understanding the regulations and/or were choosing to ignore the signage.

Community Feedback

  • 55% of respondents felt the “Pick Up Dog Litter” sign was the clearest sign however only 26% believe the observance of the sign to be effective

  • 37% of respondents felt the “Dogs Under Effective Control” sign was clear and only 21% found the observance of the sign to be effective

  • 49% of respondents believed the “Dogs on Lead At All Times” sign was clear with only 24% found the observance of the sign to be effective

  • 30% of respondents felt the “Dogs on Lead on and within 5 Metres of the Path” sign was clear with only 19% finding the observance of the sign to be effective.

The interpretation of the “Dogs on Lead on and within 5 Metres of the Path” order has been a major challenge for dog walkers to clearly understand. The correct interpretation of this dog control allows for dog owners to move 5 metres off the path where dogs are then permitted off-leash but under effective control. Otherwise the dog is to remain on-leash as it is walked down the path, and the area abutting the path up to and including 5 metres.

In practical terms not only is this a difficult dog control order for the community to understand, it is very difficult for Councils Animal Officers to monitor for compliance, especially when trying to establish proof following an incident. Furthermore a number of incidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and other dogs have eventuated due to this confusion.


Our current Education/Promotion Activities


All nuisances

  • Provide information on cat and dog confinement, barking, dogs at large etc, cat curfew to new cat/dog owners in registration information packs each year

  • Provide information on Council’s website and Council’s telephone ‘on hold’ message system, Tag Time Newsletter, local newspapers and radio about the types of nuisances and relevant Local Laws and Orders, and how to report a nuisance and record ongoing nuisances as well as completing support documentation (eg barking dog diary)

  • Distribute relevant brochures, fact sheets and other material developed by the Bureau of Animal Welfare and/or Council via, vets, pet shops, breeders, shelters , schools and Council’s Customer Service Centres

  • Held responsible dog/cat ownership courses and highlight nuisance issues



At large and trespass (see ‘All nuisances’ and the following)


  • Promote DIY cat enclosures booklet, information on commercially produced cat enclosures, dog and cat containment fencing, confinement of cats to residence, via Council website, Council newsletters, vets, pet shops, shelters, breeders, local papers and registration information packs

  • Encourage desexing of pets to reduce wandering

  • Provide the use of ‘loan’ cat traps for residents experiencing trespassing cats, complete with operating and well being instructions for the cat

  • Provide clearly identifiable designated off-leash areas to meet the ‘free-running’ and playing needs of dogs

  • Provide clear signage and walking maps (eg Walk Time – pocket size dog map) which clear Identifies those open public places that are either off-leash, on-leash or excluded areas in which dogs are required to be effectively controlled/on-leash, during certain times

  • Hand out ‘Well done and Thank you’ cards to those dog owners complying with requirements – e.g. walking dog on lead, ‘scooping the poop’, having dog under effective control, registering and microchipping animal, observing dog control signage



Barking dogs (see ‘All nuisances’ and the following)


  • Provide information on the causes of excessive barking, including: separation anxiety, boredom, external stimuli (passers-by, other dogs barking, cats trespassing), territorialism (when there are visitors to the property), communication with other dogs

  • Encourage owners of barking dogs to seek advice from Council/professional dog trainer/animal behaviourist on how to reduce their dog’s barking

  • Loan owners bark count collars to control barking problems



Dog poo (see ‘All nuisances’ and the following)


  • Advise dog owners of legal requirements relating to cleaning up of dog poo, by distributing education material (see ‘All nuisance’ section for methods), providing owner/person in charge of dog in parks and other public places with information and dog poo bags during patrols

  • Provide signage regarding requirement for owner/person in charge to pick up and dispose of dog poo in litter bins

  • Provide complimentary Dog Pooch Paks enabling dog owners to carry a supply of dog poo bags on their dogs lead

  • Provide free dog poo bags at community events and high use areas

  • Provide dog poo bag dispensers and disposal bins in parks (in high use areas) to encourage owners/person in charge of animal to clean up the animal’s poo



Our current Compliance Activities


All nuisances

  • Record all nuisance complaints on a database to track resolutions, repeat offenders

  • Investigate nuisance complaints within Council guidelines

  • Ensure nuisance investigation timeframes are as short as possible to reduce complainants’ frustration

  • Review Council policies and procedures relating to nuisance as per Council guidelines

  • Ensure notices to comply, notices of objection, infringements, prosecutions are in line with Council Policy and Procedures



At large and trespass (see ‘All nuisances’ and the following)


  • Patrol public places to check for dogs or cats at large or in prohibited public areas

  • Increase patrols during holiday periods

  • Proactive in feral cat trapping programs (in specific areas where there are identified problem such as wildlife reserves or lane ways)

  • Seek community compliance with cat owners on the Cat Curfew Order

  • Seek community compliance with dog owners on the Dogs in Public Places Policy

  • Provide loan cat cages (free of charge) to local residents for trapping cats trespassing on their property (specify whether use is free of charge, deposit required, or fee charged)

  • Purchase an additional cat cages that is compliant with POCTA Regulations on confinement traps

  • Ensure Council has the required local laws to enforce the need for excess animal permits



Barking dogs (see ‘All nuisances’ and the following)


  • Encourage complainant to contact owner of barking dog and advise them of their concerns as first step to resolving issue

  • If not resolved, contact owner of barking dog and provide them with information and ideas to reduce barking to attempt rapid resolution

  • Provide barking dog diary to complainant

  • Encourage parties to seek mediation where possible

  • Carry out investigation following protocols to establish nuisance or otherwise

  • Provide for the loan of anti-bark collars (citronella, electronic), provide information to owners regarding requirements under POCTA Regulation 19 for electronic collars

  • Note barking dogs can also be considered unreasonable noise under Section 48A of the Environment Protection Act 1970, according to the EPA publication ‘Annoyed by Noise?’



Dog poo (see ‘All nuisances’ and the following)


  • Seek community compliance of Council’s Local Law regarding the compulsory collection and disposal of dog poo by owner/person in charge of the dog



Summary


As part of Council’s recent community consultation process a section of the survey was devoted to the 2008 Dogs in Public Places Policy which largely addresses where dog walkers are permitted to walk their dogs on or off leash during relevant times. The feedback received from the community together with stakeholders, animal behaviourists and Officers input has formed the basis for the 2013 -2017 Dogs in Public Places Policy.
The most significant change to this policy has been the removal of the dog control ‘Dogs on Lead on and within 5 Metres of the Path’ and the subsequent introduction of a large number of dedicated Off Leash ‘Supervised’ Areas that must be used in conjunction with conditions of use. These conditions have been specifically implemented to reduce dog attacks, allowing all community members to feel safe whilst enjoying the public open spaces of the municipality. The remainder of the municipality will remain as an ‘On Leash Controlled Area’ which is consistent with the 2008 policy.
Council will continue to seek compliance and provide education and information to address barking dog nuisance complaints, as well the Cat Curfew Order which is in existence. Animal patrols will remain ensuring the compliance of the 2013 – 2017 Dogs in Public Places Policy with a strong focus on reminding dog walkers that under the local law they must carry a litter receptacle and pick up their dog’s waste.

Our Plans


  • To reduce cat nuisance problems within the community particularly trespassing cats

  • To reduce barking dog complaints within the community

  • To promote the benefits of Responsible Pet Ownership

  • To seek community compliance with the Dogs in Public Places Policy


Objective 1: To reduce cat nuisance problems within the community particularly trespassing cats.


Activity

When

Evaluation

Seek community compliance with cat owners on the Cat Curfew Order by issuing infringements in line with operational procedures and the Cat Curfew Order

Ongoing

Cat trespassing complaints reduced

Number of infringements issued



Provide education material on cat enclosures, and nuisance issues to cat owners with registration information packs

Ongoing

Information provided via :

Customer Service Centres Microchipping and Registration Roadshows

Number of brochures distributed recorded in brochure management system


Provide residents experiencing cat trespassing problems with complimentary loan cat traps for trapping nuisance animals

Ongoing

Record number of traps issued to determine problem level


Review the Local Law as to the number of cats permitted on a property (particularly for areas located closely to wetlands and eco-systems

Year 2

Review of the Local Law undertaken

Explore options to introduce “Cat Free Zones” in new subdivision especially those that are located close to wetlands and eco-systems environmentally sensitive areas

Year 2

Options explored

Maintain partnerships with Local and State Government Departments and community groups to work actively on reducing cat nuisance problems




Partnerships cemented

Cat nuisance problems reduced




Objective 2: To reduce barking dog complaints and nuisance behaviour in the community


Activity

When

Evaluation

Update barking dog information kits to provide to owners of alleged barking dogs

Year 1

Barking dog kit updated



Review and update website with information to assist owners of barking dogs and complainants on what options are available

Year 1

Review of current material undertaken and website updated

Encourage residents to report barking dogs to enable Council to assist in resolving the problem before it escalates

Year 1

Reduced barking complaints

Reduced neighbour conflicts



Provide information on the causes of excessive barking and techniques for managing the situation eg separation anxiety, boredom, external stimuli, territorialism

Year 1

Brochure produced and distributed to barking dog owners

Animal Officers trained in solutions for barking dogs

Website updated


Establish relationships with local animal behaviouralists/trainers with the view of having the community access beneficial information and knowledge.

Ongoing

Persons experiencing behavioural problems with their dogs are able to change/improve those behaviours.



Objective 3: To promote the benefits of Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO)


Activity

When

Evaluation

Promote and provide RPO education programs and material for cat and dog owners with a focus on:

Preventing dog attacks

Keeping your cat and dog contained prevent straying and possible euthanasia

Barking Dogs

Keeping the environment clean

Where to walk your dog

Benefits of desexing your dog and cat

Benefits of registration and microchipping

Legislation changes


Annually

Promotion of RPO programs via a variety of mediums

RPO workshops held and target numbers met

Marketing material produced

Decrease in nuisance complaints

Target non compliant owners


Provide advice to pet owners on pet care during fireworks, thunderstorms and holidays

Ongoing

Place updated information on website

Promote in local media



Invite guest speakers from local dog clubs, animal behaviourists or training specialist to present at educational forums

Annually

Education programs held

Guest speakers attended



Identify opportunities for funding and partnerships to deliver affordable RPO programs for the community

Annually

Funding opportunities explored

Actively promote the benefits of desexing to reduce fewer unwanted animals, reduced aggression in dogs, reduced wandering tendencies, no surprise litters

Ongoing

Benefits of desexing actively promoted via various mediums and campaigns

Reduced number of unwanted animals

Reduced number of trespassing/straying animals

Reduced number of dog attacks



Continue to utilise ‘Lead the Way’ in future marketing campaigns, communications and advertising

Ongoing

‘Lead the Way’ utilised in campaigns associated with the Domestic Animal Management Plan

Develop and actively promote “Pets for Life” campaign focussing on

Correct pet selection and things you need to know before becoming a pet owner



Year 1

Campaign developed and implemented

Educate community about key dog behaviours can lead to incidents including the proper handling and management of young puppies.

Ongoing

Deliver educational material to community.



Objective 4: To seek community compliance with the Dogs in Public Places Policy 2013 - 2017


Activity

When

Evaluation

Actively promote and educate the community on the Dogs in Public Places Policy 2013 – 2017 in particular

Designated Off Leash Supervised Areas and conditions of use


Ensure the public pay particular attention to coastal areas that are zoned ‘Conditional On Leash ‘Controlled’ Area (Hooded Plover and Wildlife Zones)

Ongoing

Increased awareness of where dogs can be walked on or off leash

Dog owners complying to Dogs in Public Places Policy 2013 - 2017

Reduced dog incidents in public open spaces

Improvement in compliance by the community in ‘Conditional On Leash ‘Controlled’ Area (Hooded Plover and Wildlife Zones)



Update compliance signage to conform to the Dogs in Public Places Policy 2013 – 2017


Ongoing

Signage updated

Strongly promote the message “Be a Pooper Scooper – Bag it & Bin it” – in any litter bin

Ongoing

Message promoted

Reduction in dog waste left uncollected in public places

Cleaner environment


Seek compliance from dog owners in carrying dog litter receptacles as in accordance with the Local Law – Dog Pooch Paks are available complimentary from Customer Service Centres

Ongoing

Infringements issued

Seek compliance from dog owners in the picking up of dog faeces as in accordance with the Local Law

Ongoing

Infringements issued

Develop a policy in partnership with COGG internal stakeholders e.g. Waste, Environment, Recreation and Open Space on the placement and supply of dog poo bags in high use areas, events and Council’s Customer Service Centres

Ongoing

Policy developed

Dog poo bags supplied in accordance with policy guidelines



Produce updated version of “Walk Time” pocket size dog walking map inline with Dogs in Public Places Policy 2013 – 2017

Year 1

Year 3


“Walk Time” produced and distributed

Actively promote the benefits of exercising and socialisation the family dog to reduce nuisance behaviour e.g. barking, dogs at large

Annually

Nuisance behaviour reduced

Prepare a feasibility study to investigate the implementation of volunteer “Animal Ambassadors” to assist with:

A dog walking program for eligible dog owners (due to ill health, age, impairment or disability)

To provide information to dog owners at high use areas (eg Fyansford Common, Coastal areas) on where dogs can be walked off leash (particularly relevant in peak times)

To assist with events e.g. Microchipping and Registration Roadshows



Year 2

Feasibility study completed

Recommendations implemented



Review and identify opportunities to increase designated Off Leash ‘Supervised’ Areas particularly in relation to new suburban developments

Annually

Review undertaken in accordance with criteria adopted in Dogs in Public Places Policy 2013 – 2017

Prepare a feasibility study to investigate the establishment of Dog Activity Parks

Year 2

Feasibility study completed

Recommendations implemented based on budget implications



Maintain relationships and continue to liaise with stakeholders eg Bellarine Bayside Foreshore Committee of Management

Barwon Coast Committee of Management and Corangamite Catchment Management Authority on Dog Control Orders in their respective Land Management Areas



Ongoing

Relationships maintained

Dog Control Orders reviewed and updated as required

Education and enforcement patrols conducted as agreed upon




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