Open play for pets

Former councillor David “Woody” Woodward is looking forward to providing his loyal companion, 18-month-old Samoyed ‘Bond’, with an off-leash exercise area. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Permits. Four dog exercise areas across Circular Head are being tabled for public consultation to provide man’s best friend with some supervised freedom.

Alongside a review of the council’s dog management and animal policies, the potential off-leash zones will allow owners to legally let their pets roam free without having to worry about receiving a fine from the local Animal Control officer.

Former councillor David “Woody” Woodward first put forth a motion several months ago following community feedback, able to personally relate to the matter with an 18-month-old dog of his own.

“What really prompted me to do it was people coming up and asking me,” he said.

“I suppose people really want an area where they’re not looking over their shoulder, and dogs need an area where they can run around.”

The areas listed for consultation include Smithton’s Lee Park on Fossey Street, Seven Mile Beach, Stanley’s Tatlows Beach and Hellyer Beach.

Mr Woodward described his loyal pet – a pure-bred Samoyed named Bond – as a “great dog” who would “lick you to death” given the chance.

However under the current policy with no declared areas, he said owners could be fined $165 if they are caught exercising their dog without a leash, regardless of their nature.

Development services executive manager Matthew Saward acknowledged that the current laws may be relatively unknown to many dog owners, with the policy targeting areas that are already heavily utilised and user-friendly.

He mentioned the Fossey Street location as an example: “It’s an area where there’s little risk for conflict with other areas; it’s not being used for anything at the moment.”

While the new areas would provide dogs with the freedom of open play, they must remain supervised at all times by their owner.

“It gives the avenue for people to do the right thing,” Mr Saward said. “A lot of it really is about doing things that are going to be reasonable for others; it’s pretty common sense.”

He added the council would look at ways to better inform local pet owners of the laws and their responsibilities, with information brochures being looked at to coincide with dog registrations.

Policies will be available for public comment until 5pm on January 30 through the council’s Facebook page, or in writing to general manager Tony Smart. They can be found at the council’s website, or via hard copy at the council’s Goldie Street office.

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