stink-and-confusion-over-dog-zonesLong-time Inverloch foreshore resident Rick Vanderburgh says the shire has literally created a mess by concentrating the dogs in one off-leash area in front of his house in The Esplanade. m690115

IT STANDS to reason, according to Inverloch foreshore resident Rick Vanderburgh, that if you put a lot more dogs together in one place, you are going to have a lot more dog poo.
And a lot of other problems as well.
That’s been his experience with the situation that has been encouraged to develop, by the shire, on a narrow strip of beach, between Grandview Grove and Cuttriss Street, right outside his waterfront home.
“On a bad day, there’s dog poo everywhere,” said Rick.
“But don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against dogs or their owners. It’s the new rules.
“I’ve been living here for more than 32 years and before they changed everything, I never had a problem with the dogs.
“They were spread out around the beaches and you hardly even noticed them.
“Certainly there’s the Hooded Plovers to consider but there’s no way known they should have been spending the tens of thousands of dollars they have on consultants, signs, extra rangers to enforce the rules and all the rest.
“It simply didn’t warrant that sort of response.”
Since his part of the beach was been changed into a 24/7 dogs-off-leash area it has been mayhem some days.
“Over the Christmas-New Year period, it wasn’t unusual to see 50 dogs here, running around in what is also supposed to be a popular swimming spot for families.
“It’s clear the shire doesn’t talk to Ports and Harbours because this is also a no-go area for power boats and jet skis in deference to the number of people who swim here.”
Mr Vanderburgh said by concentrating all of the off-leash dogs in the one small area, the shire has actually multiplied the problem.
Most people, he said, did the right thing and picked up after their dogs but because there’s more dogs, the percentage that don’t do the right thing has resulted in a disgusting mess.
But he said the worst thing about it was that it was creating conflict and confusion where there was none before.
“Because it’s an off-leash area, some people come down here and basically think there’s no rules.
“They just let their dogs off and away they go.
“There was a Great Dane down here the other day and it went bounding off through the beach goers to the water. The owner called the dog but it just kept on going.
“I said to the bloke that he needed to maintain control of his dog but he just said, ‘what’s the problem, it’s an off-leash area’.
“They don’t realise that there are rules to be observed in the off-leash areas too but no one knows what they are.
“And there’s no information about it at the beach,” he said.
On November 19, 2014, the Bass Coast Shire Council declared the strip of beach between the Grandview Grove and Cuttriss Street a ‘Designated Off Leash Area’ 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day.
But the order, moved by Inverloch’s Cr Jordan Crugnale and seconded by Phillip Island’s Andrew Phillips, includes the following conditions:
(a.) A dog may be exercised off a chain, cord or leash in a Designated Off Leash Area during the times allowed in that area if the owner of the dog:
i. Carries a chain, cord or leash;
ii. Has at all times effective voice control of the dog and is able to place the dog under effective control by means of chain, cord or leash immediately it is necessary;
iii. Does not allow the dog to attack a person or animal or rush at a person; and
iv. Always keeps the dog in sight.
“You have to search through the shire’s website for the rules governing off leash areas but who’s going to do that.
“Among other things, you’ve got to have full control of your dog at all times and also to have effective voice control if you are going to let the dog off the lead,” Mr Vanderburgh said.
“German Shepherds and Staffies are down here mixing in with the smaller dogs in a confined space, and especially when the tide is in, there’s a fair bit of tension around.
“The dog owners don’t like it either but they’ve got no alternative.”
The point is, according to Mr Vanderburgh, that the situation was a whole lot better before the shire introduced the rules.
“We never had an issue before and now we’ve got all this conflict in the community.
“Why change something that was already working.”
Dog owners agree that the new arrangements at Inverloch, with the conflicting rules and new signage, are confusing and a little comical at best but have made the situation worse for everyone, not better.


Signs of limited consultation

SIGNS, signs everywhere a sign. Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign…
So said the lyrics of the early 70s anti-establishment anthem by the little known Five Man Electrical Band.
But it could just as easily apply to Inverloch at the moment where dozens of extra signs went up along the foreshore last week advising dog owners and beach goers where to go and where not to go under the new dogs-on-the-beaches regime.
It’s all everyone was talking about in the town last week.
But, oh dear, as you’d expect the Bass Coast Shire Council has made a right hash of it.
Our readers have pointed out a few problematic anomalies:
• The ‘this way-that way’ signs erected on the foreshore at the end of View Street prohibits dog owners from walking their pooches to the east, presumably because it’s a popular swimming area but, on the same pole is a sign from Gippsland Ports warning against swimming in the area (see attached).
• The main, 24/7 Designated Off Leash area, between Grandview Grove and Cuttriss Street (east of the Inverloch boat ramp), is also an area set aside by Gippsland Ports as a no-go area for power boats and jet skis to avoid conflict with swimmers in this popular area. The beach here is also very narrow at high tide time and often unsuitable as an off-leash area.
• The hasty designation of a small off-leash area between Wave Street and Ozone Street (Surf Parade, east of the surf club), has also been heatedly criticised by surfers as being in conflict with their most favoured surfing area in Inverloch.
Surfing Victoria CEO Max Wells, who lives at Inverloch, said he asked the Bass Coast Shire why it hadn’t consulted with the surfers but got the answer that the Inverloch SLSC had been asked for comment and offered no objection.
“The problem is they haven’t asked the locals. Most of the members of the surf club come from Melbourne or outside the local area,” Mr Wells said.
“This area of the beach (between Wave and Ozone) is the most popular with local and visiting surfers,” he said.
Most people say the new rules, restrictions and signs are the problem, not the dogs.