off-leash-councillors-hijacked-dog-reformPresident of the Inverloch Tourism Association, Dom Brusamarello, chaired the community forum organised by FIDO in Inverloch last Sunday.

MORE than 200 people turned out for the FIDO (Friends of Inverloch Dog Owners) forum in the town last Sunday afternoon, giving up a perfect beach day to make their views known to council.
And they’re not happy, councillors!
One of the things they are most unhappy about is that they believe the Bass Coast Shire Council hijacked its own Domestic Animal Management Plan implementation process by introducing a ban on dogs at Inverloch’s beaches, whether on-leash or off.
At no stage, said a community member of the shire’s Domestic Animal Management Advisory Committee, Ivan Hipworth, was it even contemplated that dogs on-leash would be banned from the beach.
“The first we knew that they were planning to ban dogs on-leash was on the Friday before the October council meeting, when we were advised by the chair that this motion was going forward to the Wednesday meeting,” Mr Hipworth said.
“We certainly hadn’t discussed it before.
“It’s the first time we knew that they had changed the whole emphasis of the discussion from the issue of dogs off-leash on the beach to dogs on-leash which had never even been discussed up to that point.
“Walking your dog on the beach, on a leash, hadn’t even been talked about as a problem,” he said.
This was the motion (in part) moved and passed by council, on the casting vote of the Mayor Cr Claire Le Serve, at its October 16, 2013 meeting:
“That council… make an order under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (a) that dogs are not permitted on any of the Inverloch Beaches under the management of Bass Coast Shire Council as follows: Between 1 December to 30 April each year (inclusive) – between the hours of 8am and 8pm and (b) that dogs are not permitted on any beaches (other than Inverloch) under the management of Bass Coast Shire Council as follows: Between 1 December to 30 April each year (inclusive) – between the hours of 10am and 5pm and 8pm and 7am.
After a public outcry, the motion was amended at the December 2013 meeting to the effect that dogs were banded between the hours of 9am and 6pm.
The Mayor Cr Claire Le Serve used her casting vote to carry the motion at the October 16, 2013 council meeting which was subsequently amended at the December council meeting.
Lack of proper community consultation, like that which the community organised for itself last Sunday, is one of the dog lobby’s biggest irks.
But they do have other legitimate concerns, including the dangers of walking dogs on the road instead of the beach and the negative impact on the local economy.
And one of the main aims of last weekend’s meeting is to put together a community-driven response to the next council meeting on Wednesday, February 19.
It wasn’t, however, a council-bashing exercise.
During the workshop stages of the meeting, they considered the benefits of dog ownership, and the negatives including that some irresponsible dog owners don’t pick up after their pooches.
They also set down the elements of responsible dog ownership, including controlling your dogs properly and not impacting on wildlife and the environment.
Those who attended the meeting also sat around tables and workshopped the messages they’d like to send to council. Here are a few of them:
• The beach is a safe environment for people and dogs to exercise for their health and wellbeing, with no negative impact on the community
• Inverloch is a very quiet place outside of the Christmas holiday period, so why ban the dogs from December to May?
• Why does Inverloch have to have different times to other areas
• Has BCSC consulted with Bayside councils about providing ‘no dog’ beach areas, ‘off leash’ beach areas and ‘on leash’ beach areas
• Don’t have time restrictions, or if you do, only when it’s busy in January
• Councillors: get a dog, get a heart, it’s better for your health and less stress
• The more pressing problem is the shire’s roads
• Didn’t take into account the impact of taking the dogs off the beach and putting them on the roads (where there are no footpaths)
• $28,000 could have been better spent on toilets near the Angling Club
• Trial parameters not clearly defined
• No good reasons for changing the status quo
• Take account of the views of visitors and renters
• Broad community consultation needed
• Appoint an advisory group that is less selective
• Tidal influences impact suitable walking times
• What about shift workers walking their dogs
• Provide poo bags and bins
• Promote dog training awareness
• Police the infringements
• Better signage needed
• Council action appeared to be preconceived
• Council ignoring feedback
• Unclear messages and misinformation, website not always accurate
• Council is out of touch with the community they are supposed to be representing
• What is the cost to ratepayers of the Hays survey and reporting process?
• Local laws staff diverted from their usual animal management work
• Need to focus on beach erosion, access and safety rather than dogs on beaches which are causing no problems
• No infrastructure (alternative pathways, signs, bins etc) in place ahead of dog ban and trial
• Represent the community and listen to them.
The meeting was orderly, constructive, informative and productive… just the sort of community consultation meeting council should have organised itself before introducing the ban and trial.

South Gippsland too cracks down on dogs

THE Korumburra Magistrates’ Court saw the darker side of the control of domestic dogs’ issue last Thursday when no fewer than four people were facing Magistrate Steven Raleigh over a series of dog attacks in the local area.
And watch out dog owners!
According to the South Gippsland Shire Council’s new Local Laws coordinator, Bruce Gardiner, who brought most of the charges, it marks the beginning of a new campaign to crack-down on nuisance dogs.
South Gippsland, he said, is also closely watching the dogs on beaches trial in the neighbouring shire of Bass Coast.
But the South Gippsland Shire Council might need to get its own house in order first.
It was also revealed at Korumburra Court last week, during the hearing of a neighbours’ dispute, that a decision by the South Gippsland Shire Council to allow a resident of Nyora a permit to privately keep 10 cocker spaniels on her property was at the root of the trouble.
It prompted Magistrate Raleigh to comment that he’d had experience with a neighbour’s barking dog and wouldn’t want to be living next door to someone with 10 dogs.
The Local Laws coordinator agreed.
In the first of the dog attack cases heard last week, an elderly woman was bitten on the hand while trying to stop her own dog from being attacked.
The incident happened at Venus Bay on Christmas Eve last year when the woman was taking her small dog for a walk, on a leash, along Jupiter Boulevard.
According to a report tendered to the court, two dogs rushed out of a residential property and one dog, an unregistered Husky Malamute, came at the woman and her dog, and immediately started biting the smaller dog around the neck.
The woman tried to stop the attack and was herself bitten, resulting in minor wounds to her hand or arm.
Police attended and the council was called with the owner of the dogs, Glenn Coe, interviewed and later charged with the dog attack and also with having an unregistered dog.
His other dog, a Staffy-type animal, took no part in the attack but Coe was charged with allowing the dog to be at large.
Mr Gardiner gave evidence about the attack but noted that there were no medical or veterinary costs associated with the incident because the injury to the woman was minor and the injured dog was treated by the owner’s son who was a vet.
Mr Raleigh handed down a $900 fine and costs of $110.40.

Also at Venus Bay
In another of the dog attack cases, a mother and her daughter, Taylah and Courtney McMaster of Venus Bay, were facing charges in relation to an incident in the town on December 31, 2013 when their healer dog got away from a young child who was leading it at the time and attacked another person’s Labrador.
Mr Raleigh said it reminded him of another case he’d heard where the child was left in charge of a dog that was bigger than her, which he said was completely irresponsible of the adult who was supposed to be in charge.
Mr Gardiner told court that the victim’s dog suffered lacerations to the neck which had to be attended to by a vet at a cost of $59.45.
The daughter, he said, was the owner of the dog but was not present at the time, and it had been left in the care of her mother.
The incident was compounded further when the woman and her daughter refused to come to the door when shire officers and police attended to collect the offending dog and also to interview its owners.
Finally, after waiting 20 minutes at the door of their Venus Bay home, the police officer was able to make eye contact with the daughter from a raised location near the house and the investigations could continue.
Magistrate Steve Raleigh handed the 21 year-old owner of the dog a $500 fine without conviction and costs of $449.85 as her share of the shire’s processing fees, impounding costs and vet’s charges; the mother was fined even more.
“The mother’s charges are more serious as she has acted irresponsibly. I understand such incidents can attract a maximum of $7000 in fines,” Mr Raleigh said.
“You will be convicted and fined $900 with costs of $449.”
Another case involving a serious injury to a person after local dog attack was adjourned to a later date while the person charged organises his defence.
Mr Gardiner said he anticipated a period of increased litigation over the next few months until pet owners realised the importance of having their animals registered and under proper control.