Councillors to consider revised dogs on beaches changes

Eurobodalla Council’s revised draft Companion Animal Management Plan, which includes proposed changes to dog exercise areas throughout the shire, will be presented to councillors on Tuesday and is available for the community to view.

Council will consider the recommendation at a meeting of Council on Tuesday to publicly exhibit the draft plan for 28 days to seek further community feedback.

It comes after a large-scale review of the plan that involved extensive community engagement in April. Following the feedback received during the process, Council revised its initial proposed changes to better reflect the community’s views.

The draft plan now recommends off-leash areas increase from 15 existing locations to 29. Timeshare off leash is proposed for 17 beach areas – a change from the originally proposed timeshare on leash due to overwhelming community feedback that timeshare arrangements should be off leash. If implemented, dogs on timeshare beaches would be prohibited from 9am to 5pm from 1 November to 30 April and allowed off leash at all other times.

The draft plan proposes a slight increase to prohibited dog arrangements to 10 beaches, primarily due to sections being restricted, for example being part of or adjoining a National Park.

It also recommends additional reserve off-leash areas at Surf Beach, Nelligen, Dalmeny and a trial at Hanging Rock sporting complex.

Other recommendations following the community’s feedback include a review of signage and increased targeted ranger patrols and enforcement, particularly related to correct usage of dog exercise areas, dog poo disposal, and the care and control of animals.

It is proposed dogs be prohibited at all times from fields where formal community sports are played, however dogs would be allowed on-leash on the sidelines, associated access tracks and non-playing field areas.

Another recommendation is for Council to further develop partnerships and education programs with animal welfare organisations, dog training groups and the RSPCA to encourage responsible pet ownership, increase rehoming and reduce incidents of complaints related to roaming, barking, menacing and dangerous dogs and roaming cats.

Council’s Divisional Manager Environment Services Deb Lenson said the draft plan aimed to balance community amenity, animal welfare and environmental management, while promoting the benefits of responsible pet ownership consistent with the requirements of the Companion Animals Act 1998.

“This is such a polarising issue in our community, with staunch views from all sides - dog owners, non-dog owners and people who do not wish to interact with dogs in public places,” she said.

“We have taken these views into consideration, along with legal, environmental and safety constraints, and while we know the proposed arrangements will not satisfy everyone in each location, this draft plan attempts to present a fair and equitable balance.”

View the agenda for Tuesday’s Council meeting at www.esc.nsw.gov.au/inside-council/council/meetings

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