Updated: Oct 20, 2019
Photo Credit © Kate Mularczyk, Curious Rabbit Photography
Living in Bayside, we realise how blessed we are. Having open spaces, beaches, parks - just a hop, skip and a jump from the city; 45 minute drive from the airport, 45 minute drive from the Dandenong Ranges, 45 minute drive to the Mornington Peninsula - we are very lucky. Don't get me wrong - many of us have worked long and hard for the privilege.
Bayside offers good living. Good schools, good amenities and good, outdoor living. Bayside City Council recognises that
* "Owning a dog can be very fulfilling. Dogs are great company, affectionate and give unconditional love. Many studies show that owning a pet improves your health by encouraging exercise."
** "There are great benefits to help your dog stay happy and healthy, such as exercise and socialisation. You increase these benefits – by mixing things up, like taking your dogs to different parks, walking different routes or going to an off-leash beach. Your dog may also get as much stimulation from a training session at home as it will from a quick walk around the block." Living in Bayside, we have some beaches dedicated to dogs and their owners - 24 hrs a day. According to the Bayside City Council website - we lucky Baysiders have 17kms of coastline in total and have 24hr off leash access all year round to the following beaches: Beaumaris Yacht Club Beach, Sandringham Harbour and Sandown Street Beach in Brighton.
*** "Dogs and their owners can continue to enjoy all year round off-leash beach fun at Sandown Street, Sandringham Harbour (Hampton) and Ricketts Point between McGregor Avenue and southern end of the Beaumaris Yacht Club car park."
This map shows the CURRENT 24 hour off lead areas within Bayside Council boundaries in GREEN. Remember - only ONE of these green parks is FULLY fenced or fully enclosed.
And this map shows the proposed changes in PINK.
These are the places that, if the council votes for the recommendations - we will LOSE.
According to the draft Bio Diversity plan - the Ricketts Point Beach will more than likely be removed from our use. This draft plan has cited studies from the USA and Canada - detailing issues like, and I am paraphrasing here - dogs descend from wolves. Wolves are predators and therefore "loose dogs kill wildlife" actual quote. Rabies is an issue apparently - yet Australia is rabies FREE. Distemper is an issue apparently yet it is well documented that, because of vaccination rates, the small number of distemper cases is more likely spread via foxes.
The Biodiversity Plan over on the councils "Have Your Say" section has drawn over 370 comments - most in favour of NOT taking away our off lead areas at Ricketts Point and Geroge St Reserve. Many pleading for MORE off lead access and not less.
Within the Bayside City Council boundaries, we currently have 3 off lead, 24 hr beaches, and access to approximately 13 off lead parks. Many of these parks have restrictions and all but ONE do not have secure fencing. The council supplies only one FULLY fenced off lead park but this park has minimal access to water for the dogs. (Have to leave the park with your dog to get water from a tap) and just one bin to dispose of waste at one end of the park. I have requested another bin and running water within the off lead boundaries with NO REPLY on at least 3 occasions. Council has removed gates from ALL other off lead parks with one of the reasons being cited that 'studies' have shown that people leave their dogs at the park while the owner goes somewhere else (pretty sure that doesn't happen) and that owners are more likely to pick up after their dogs if not fully enclosed. Some of the off lead parks that you see in the map, we also have to share with sporting clubs. ie when the clubs are there - no off lead visits for us. Then there is the matter of rubbish left behind by humans after game day.
Photo Credit © Kate Mularczyk, Curious Rabbit Photography
This photo shows the Sandringham Harbour Dog Beach. The rubbish, the seaweed, the oily mess that dogs and their owners need to negotiate - it is one of our THREE 24hr off lead beaches.
Many people in our municipality don't realise that the Bayside City Council Dog Registration fees (for a desexed dog) are $76.50 per annum. We pay the MOST out of all Melbourne Metropolitan councils with the next closest being the City of Port Phillip with the cost being $67.00. Yes, we get dog bags and dispensers at our parks. That is a big plus. But we don't get security of enclosed areas.
ALL dogs must have good recall. And of course, that is the ideal, however, what about when you are training a dog to recall? The dog is new to your family? What about when a dog gets spooked (as animals - and people) can do? What about those people who are not as mobile as others, who rely on off lead parks to give their dogs a good run? A fully enclosed park is not only helpful in these situations but is required. I ask the council, why NOT look at providing MORE amenities to dog owners rather than less? Why not look to providing ENCLOSED areas instead of removing gates? Why not, with PROPER, transparent community consultation, look at providing education, free space and at least acknowledge the $$ contribution by our community of which, according to the Bayside Domestic Animal Plan, there were 12,332 in 2016/2017 - that is around $850,000 from dog registrations alone.
From page 20 of the Bayside Domestic Animal Management Plan:
"It is imperative to educate the community on the important responsibilities and legislative requirements of ‘under effective control’ and to challenge the misconception that gated areas are safe environments for themselves and their dogs. However Council recognises that there may be benefits in the provision of a gated environment to enable individuals and their pets to learn and test effective control."
For the past few years, it is clear that Council does not consider the more than $1 Million dollars in revenue that pet owners inject into the coffers anything more than bank account boost. I feel like they think they don't need to supply animal owners and their pets with anything more than they can get away with and tend to cite 'research' that is not substantiated as a reason.
The Council Meeting is on this TUESDAY, 19th of June at 7.00pm at the Council Chambers, Civic Centre, Boxshall Street Brighton.
Please come and show your support!
Kingston City Council "Dog off leash areas; Kevin Hayes Reserve, Reg Marlow Park and Snowden Reserve are fully enclosed."
City of Port Phillip: "There are seven dog beaches in Port Phillip - five where pooches can play off their leashes all year round and two early morning dog beaches."