The Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAM Plan) caters for the needs of domestic pets, their owners and addresses the concerns of the general public in a fair and even manner.
The aim of this plan is to facilitate co-existence of pets, pet owners and the general population whilst addressing the welfare and legislative issues relating to animal management in the City boundaries. This plan also aims to promote responsible pet ownership and enhance the experience of animal ownership within the community, by so doing, make the City of Greater Geelong an even better place to live.
While the directive to create a plan is in line with the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (DAA) which requires all Victorian councils to have a four year plan in place for the management of dogs and cats within their area, the City has used a consultative process to consider opinions and concerns from all relevant group and individuals.
It is now well recognised by the community and governments alike that there is more to animal management than merely collecting stray dogs and addressing compliances issues. Not so well recognised is the role that local government plays in protecting and promoting responsible animal ownership in the community and the environment, both essential to maintaining sustainable communities and a healthy environment.
This plan is designed to balance the needs of the community and at the same time manage the requirements of the act. This is an evolving practice as the community grows and changes and environmental concerns play an ever more important part of our City.
A key aspect of this plan is to manage domestic animals issues in a professional and efficient manner, provide education to the community of the responsibilities of pet ownership where possible at the same time address and minimise the problems generated by irresponsible pet owners.
Overview of the City of Greater Geelong
The City of Greater Geelong has one of the largest animal populations of any Victorian municipality and currently has over 46,000 registered cats and dogs (based at 2013).
The City has a total land area of 1,250 square kilometres, including a mix of coastal, rural and urban areas. Currently the municipality has a population of 215,151 with 95,753 dwellings. Annually the City has an average population growth of 1.51% and it is estimated by the year 2031, the population will be in excess of 303,000. With population growth, comes a likely increase in pet ownership.
In developing this plan, in 2012 Council consulted with the community to gain an understanding of community perception in relation to animal management. Consultation involved a wide audience including community members, special interest groups, stakeholders and internal departments of the City of Greater Geelong.
The basis of this plan has been formed from a range of data gathered from Animal Behaviourists, staff experience and observations and response from the community to the survey.
Summary of Respondents Concerns
In general the respondents consider themselves responsible pet owners and are respectful of the Council remaining a dog and cat friendly municipality. The respondents are supportive of Council’s compliance and regulatory presence to ensure that all pet owners comply with the dog and cat control orders.
Respondents expressed the need to have an increased compliance presence in the community to address issues including non-compliance with dog control orders, dog waste, dog attacks, barking dogs, roaming cats and other nuisance issues. Respondents support the issuing of infringements and increasing penalties, if this would deter and improve poor behaviour of some pet owners.
A total of 568 responses were received. This included 349 online responses with 219 responses being via paper surveys.
The respondents’ demographics included:
77% being aged between 35 and 69 years
75% of respondents were female
Respondents came from 54 suburbs across the municipality with 81% of respondents residing in 20 suburbs
86% of respondents owned either a cat or dog with 14% being non pet owners.
Overview of the Community Consultation - Results
Community members were given the opportunity to provide feedback on the outcomes achieved during the life of the DAM Plan 2008 – 2012. Perceptions of the effectiveness of the programs indicated that:
The cat curfew and education on pet selection were seen to be the least effective (28% and 23% respectively)
39% of respondents indicated the on/off-leash areas were considered effective
32% were uncertain as to whether education on responsible pet ownership was effective
The microchipping and registration roadshows were perceived to be the most effective by 61% of respondents
Compulsory desexing of cats and dogs was well supported with 97% supporting the desexing of cats from the pound, 82% agreed to desexing newly registered cats and 85% were supportive of desexing registered cats. 64% of respondents were in support of desexing dogs
90% of respondents declared dog attacks as the most important issue to address for the future
67% indicated that the need for improved and clearer dog control orders. 77% indicated they wish to see a decrease in dogs at large.
49% felt that the ‘Dogs On Leash on or within 5 metres of a pathway a major challenge to understand and may contribute to incidents
Our Orders, Local Laws, Council Policies and Procedures
The City of Greater Geelong like every Victorian Council has a statutory obligation to animal management in its municipality. The Domestic Animals Act (1994) Council Local Laws, Policies and Procedures are the regulations that are adhered too for addressing animal management issues.
Animal management encompasses but is not limited too:
The registration and identification of dogs and cats
Access to public open spaces by dogs and their owners
The health and well-being of dogs and cats
Critical to animal management is the concept of responsible pet ownership as the mechanism for ensuring these issues are managed and setting parameters for dogs in public places.
As a representative body today for the community, Council plays a leadership role in partnering with others to enable a well informed community and innovative approaches to managing domestic animals.
The following is a list of the Orders and Local Laws that are relevant in animal management in the municipality today. Policies and procedures are listed as pertaining to the situation.
Orders & Policy
COGG Dogs in Public Places Policy 2013 – 2017
Corangamite Catchment Management Authority Dog Control Orders
Barwon Coast Committee of Management Dog Control Orders
Within its General Local Law, Council has several clauses relating to the management of domestic animals within the municipality. These include:
Must not permit excrement of a dog under his or her care of control to remain on a road or Council land; and
Who is in charge or control of a dog on a road or Council land must have in his or her possession a dedicated scooper device or bag for the purpose of removing from the road or Council any excrement from that dog deposited on the road or council land.
Permitted number of Dogs and Cats without the need for a permit
The permitted number of dogs and cats by various land use zones are based on preserving the amenity of the area and not creating a nuisance or offensive/dangerous conditions to neighbouring or subject properties