off-leash-beach-doomed-to-failThere might have been plenty room to play fetch with dogs at one of Inverloch’s off-leash beach zones last week, but come this weekend it will be a different story. G135114

PASSIONATE Inverloch dog owners say a section of beach where dogs are allowed off-lead 24/7 over summer is “a disaster waiting to happen”.
With holidaymakers expected to swamp upon Inverloch from Boxing Day onwards, the designated off-leash zone, in the Rotary Park area between Grandview Grove and Cuttriss Street, is situated a stone’s throw away from the entrance to the town’s largest caravan park.
“If you had to pick a beach that was suitable for dogs off-leash, this is probably the worst spot in all of Inverloch,” one resident, Christine Finney, remarked when she met with other concerned dog owners at the Cuttriss Street beach entrance last week.
You’d think that those who protested loudest about last summer’s highly vexed dogs-on-beaches ban around the shire would be happy there’s a spot they can bring their pets for a run and a paddle, day or night.
But while they’re happy to accept an off-leash zone, they say the location, chosen by Bass Coast Shire Council, couldn’t be worse.
“They’ve given us this (area) to set us up to fail,” another Inverloch resident, Margaret Sartorio, added.
“In my wildest dreams I never thought they’d allow an off leash area here 24/7 at such a busy time.”
Among concerns from this group of dog owners is not that an out-of-control canine might rush at or attack a local or visitor during this peak period, it’s that with so many people crowding the beach, an accident is bound to happen.
“There are so many young children on this beach at this time of year, there’s the potential a dog could accidentally run into or knock over a child in its exuberance,” Julie Jones, a local dog groomer, said.
“I’m hoping that people who do come here with their dogs over the holidays use their own intuition and just keep them on a lead if there are people everywhere.
“You don’t want dogs off-lead on a busy beach anyway,” Ms Sartorio agreed.
“I mean, if I was relaxing here on the sand and reading a book, I don’t want to hear dogs yapping away while they run around.”
All three dog owners say the option to retain the beach between Grandview Grove an Cuttriss Street as an off-leash zone over summer was “never discussed” at the numerous community consultation sessions a few months back.
Another, smaller off-leash area, is located to the west of town between Ozone and Wave Streets following a council decision earlier this month.
The beach between Grandview and Cuttris was introduced as an off leash zone in 2013, but dog owners were only permitted to undo leads before 9am or after 6pm during summer.
The council’s Healthy Communities general manager, David Elder, said no incidents had been reported to council in the off-leash area between Grandview and Cuttriss since the latest dog rules for Inverloch were introduced on December 1.
Mr Elder added that an increased number of summer patrols of all beaches have been underway since December 1 and will continue until after next Easter.
“Warnings have been issued for dogs off-leash in the on-leash areas,” he said.