AFTER much anticipation, containment of cats 24/7 will be implemented after council adopted the Bass Coast Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) 2021-25 at this week’s meeting. 
The phased implementation of 24/7 cat containment is expected to be enforced from July 1, 2023, following a community education campaign and council adoption.
‘Cat Containment’ will mean owners must keep their cat contained to a property and/or under the owner’s control, in the same way that dogs are.
Cr David Rooks voiced his support for 24/7 containment, and said it was a good decision that would help cats live healthier, longer lives.
“Animal welfare groups, zoos, Australian Veterinary Association and RSPCA all support having cats contained 24/7,” Cr Rooks said. 
“It is a change though, and with change comes a little bit of stress, but council is aware of this, and we are setting up a community group for cat owners to go through this change.”
Another significant aspect of the DAMP is dog waste bins and bags, which council will explore by undertaking a business case that will be developed and presented to councillors before July 2022.
A review of the current management of dog off leash and on leash areas at shire-managed beaches, is also expected to commence in 2022.
However, Cr Ron Bauer questioned the need for a business case regarding dog waste bins and bags at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Every other municipality that has an off-leash area has dispensers, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Cr Bauer said.
“I was told we need a business case to see the best way to bring in this measure.
“I believe that’s overkill and an unnecessary waste of money to bring in a consultant.”
Cr Bauer said he also believed the off-leash period for dogs on beaches should be from February to December.
“In those times hardly anybody uses the beaches,” he said.
“The current starting time of April is such overkill. Walking our dogs on the beaches surely falls under out mental health policy.”
The Phillip Island Bass Coast Dog Owners Association had made a number of submissions to the draft DAMP, calling for more off leash areas and poo bag dispensers.
President Cheryl Owens said she echoed Cr Bauer’s comments.
“Regarding the bag dispensers, I’ve driven all the way to Mallacoota along the coast and every beach has bag dispensers,” Ms Owens said.
“It’s not rocket science. The data is already there; other councils have been doing it for ages.”
Community feedback also saw 556 survey responses as well as pop-up sessions held at Wonthaggi Plaza and Cowes Shopping Centre.
Key themes and actions gathered through the consultation period also included:
* Responsible Pet Ownership: Animals trained and socialised, microchipped, desexed, registered, wearing tags.
* Regulations, Local Laws and Enforcement: Increase patrols and enforcement actions.
* Signage: Improve and simplify.
* Wildlife and Animal Welfare: Decrease feral animals, protect wildlife, raise awareness and educate domestic animal owners on the impacts and implications of pets near conservation areas.
These objectives will now be implemented throughout the DAMP 2021-25.
Under Section 68A of the Domestic Animal Management Act, every council must prepare a DAMP at four-year intervals.
The objectives of the DAMP are to promote responsible pet ownership and protect the welfare of pets, and outline council’s animal management services.