The issue of providing public park space to enable dog owners to exercise their dog off leash is one that often generates conflicting opinions and robust debate. Balancing the needs of dog owners wishing to exercise their dog off leash with the needs of a wide variety of other park users has been considered on a number of occasions in recent years.
In 2003 Council undertook a community survey to determine the effectiveness of the designation of parks as ‘on leash’ and ‘off leash’. Of those surveyed 76% were satisfied with the existing designation of parks and reserves. Similarly, 82% of respondents were satisfied with the existing designation of the park and reserve that they use most often.
Many submissions referred to the need for dogs to be exercised off leash – this activity is prohibited on public streets, as these are on leash at all times. Residents also commented that many residents live in units and apartments and are unable to exercise their dogs anywhere else. The benefits of dog owners and their animals meeting regularly is seen by residents as a major contributing factor to community connectedness and reducing isolation for many older residents.
Other suggestions made include: a fenced off area where dogs can be exercised; a curfew on the times that dogs can be off leash and additional signage to be installed.
Fencing of the playground areas was also suggested. However this is in conflict with Council’s Playground Strategy. The introduction of a curfew or designated times for dogs to be off leash may disadvantage some residents as the times set will not suit all park visitors.
Moreland has over 430 parks and reserves. There are large, quiet parks like Coburg Lake, smaller local parks, narrow reserves along our creeks and many areas for sport and recreation. Almost all parks have playgrounds and some have barbecues and half basketball courts. In most parks, dogs must be on a leash.
Council adopted a resolution on 8 March 2006 under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 which nominated 51 parks and reserves being dog off-leash areas.
A full list of Council’s off leash parks can be found in APPENDIX 1 of this plan or by visiting Council’s website (www.moreland.vic.gov.au) .
Off leash and agility areas encourage owners to exercise with their dogs
Well exercised dogs are less likely to become bored and a nuisance
Training means owners have good control over their dog both at home and in the community. It may also prevent or treat behavioural problems. If help is needed owners can ask their vet, Council, animal shelter or dog club/ association for advice, or look under "Dog training" in the Yellow Pages.
Owners can also enjoy fun activities with their dog by joining an obedience, flyball or agility club. Find details of these clubs online, in the Yellow Pages, or by contacting 'Dogs Victoria'.
Dog Training clubs in Moreland
Brunswick Dog Training Club Inc
Wylie Park, Corner Union and South Daly Streets Brunswick West VIC 3055
Aberfeldie Park, Bruce Street Moonee Ponds VIC 3039
Phone: 9375 1410
As the municipality changes more residential noise nuisance complaints continue to be a major issue in higher density areas. Living in apartments or small properties with dogs is challenging and a priority will be to educate dog owners about training and responsible animal ownership.
Selection of pets is important and should be carefully considered as not all dogs are suited to small living spaces. (refer www.moreland.vic.gov.au ).
It is expected that noise nuisance complaints will continue to stay at high levels, due to the nature of the municipality.
Nuisance is examined in more detail under the following heading:
Dogs aren't automatically dangerous, but when they are outside, away from home, scared, hungry or have been mistreated, they can be defensive and aggressive. It's better to protect yourself and your family than it is to try to rescue a stray dog that might be dangerous. Once you're safe and your family is safe, call Council to come and take care of the stray.
A separate tag bearing the owner’s phone number is recommended.
Animal Management Officers carry microchip readers to help indentify registered dog owners and where possible contact the owner and return stray animals to their property. Registered animals found at large are returned to their owners free of penalty on the first occasion. If the registered animal is again identified at large the owner risks receiving an infringement. All owners of unregistered animals found at large will receive an infringement notice.
All dogs found at large or taken into Council’s custody are delivered to The Lost Dogs Home. If a first offence, there is no penalty but there are holding fee costs payable to retrieve the animal from the LDH.