By Michael Giles

Sentinel Times, Managaing Director, Michael Giles

AUSTRALIA has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world with more than 62 per cent of households owning either a dog or a cat and many others saying they would like to own a pet in the near future.
So, it stands to reason that public authorities including the local shires and land managers should be trying to accommodate the needs of their residents and visitors, with respect to their pets, not causing them grief.
People who don’t have a cat or dog probably don’t appreciate what a fantastic job these companion animals do stopping their owners from being lonely and providing them with purpose, when they often live alone.
They love them and get love in return.
Most people would agree that cats should not be roaming at night.
But should they be confined inside the house 24/7? Unless the cat is toilet trained, there’s the kitty litter smells, the feeding and the welfare of the cat to be considered. So, perhaps a 12-hour curfew would be best, with cats under the control of their owners during day times.
Dogs? That’s a different story.
The Bass Coast Shire Council has just published the results of a survey they conducted last January, and February and the results are interesting.
But, in general, they support the provision of more designated off-leash beach areas, they say there’s a need for more off-leash beach areas in San Remo and Phillip Island and longer time-frames when dogs can be walked off-leash on designated beaches.
There’s not much data on Inverloch but the needs of dog owners and their pets would be similar; more places to walk dogs, access to beaches anytime while dogs are on-leash and extended hours and more locations for taking dogs to the beach off-leash.
Certainly, Hooded Plover nesting areas should be protected, and dogs should be kept under control near other dogs and beachgoers but surely, the dangers of rushing or aggressive dogs has been over-exaggerated.
One thing that has not been over-exaggerated however is dogs defecating on beaches and in public areas. Dog owners must religiously clean up after their dogs or the whole thing risks falling apart.
In short though, with such a high level of pet ownership in Australia, authorities should be helping to accommodate the needs of their citizens not tying their lives up unnecessarily in red tape.