Proposed Off-leash Areas Polarise Public Opinion
It has been said that dog is man’s best friend, but the conditions were never specified: on-leash or off-leash? Following Waverley Council’s announcement of a community consultation into the possible addition of new off-leash areas in the Waverley municipality, there has been both a lot of dog talk, and a lot more off-leash dog walk.
Queens Park, Varna Park, Raleigh Reserve and Diamond Bay Reserve are currently off-leash areas in the Waverley municipality. Dogs are able to run free in these public areas, shared by families and children. Dickson Park, Hugh Bamford Reserve and Waverley Park are currently undergoing a 12-month off-leash trial as a result of community consultation.
Waverley Council is again seeking the community feedback, this time in regards to the possibility of Bronte Park and Gully becoming off-leash dog walking areas. Council is also proposing that Marks Park become off-leash, with the exception of a 10-meter radius from the playground.
“An average of about one in four households has a dog. We live in a community where many people are passionate about their dogs,” Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said.
“We make no apologies for being proactive with our community consultation, we are taking our feedback from residents very seriously. We are strongly encouraging both dog owners and non-dog owners to step forward and tell us what they think,” she added.
Rose Bay resident Sandra Nogueira has been a dog owner for thirty-two years yet doesn’t entirely agree with the idea of the ‘off-leash’ areas.
“I would feel more comfortable to let my dog run wild in a closed off, dogs only area and not have to worry that he’s going to attack or bite someone. The fact is that in a normal playtime, dogs tend to get excited and bite, nip or jump at strangers. They could really hurt someone,” Sandra explained.
“My dog is not always the world’s friendliest and if I leave him off-leash he could potentially scare off kids. I think everyone deserves the right to feel safe in parks. As a dog owner, you have a responsibility to respect your pet by making sure they’re safe and everyone in their environment feels safe,” she added.
With regard to Sandra’s idea of closed-off areas, Waverley Council has stated that this has been “considered in the past and (they) could potentially do so in the future”.
Another local dog owner, Bondi’s Jordan Johnstone was more positive about the potential changes.
“I really like the idea of having more off-leash areas; they’re loads of fun. There are always dogs around for our dog to play with. The increasing number of apartment blocks going up around the Eastern Suburbs means there aren’t a lot of people with backyards for dogs to run in. Walking them on a leash just isn’t the same,” Jordan told The Beast.
On the matter of off-leash areas and the potential threat to nearby children, Jordan was relatively non-plussed.
“Wherever people walk their dogs there will be children around. There is nothing stopping a dog on a leash from jumping onto a child and biting them,” he said.
According to Waverley Council, they “want to be fair to both dog-owners and non-dog owners and give both parties the opportunity to have their say”.
To have your say on the proposed dog-walking changes, jump on to the Waverley Council website, www.waverley.nsw.gov.au, before March 25.