Dog fight – council reveals attack figures
BASS Coast Shire Council received 85 reports of dogs attacking or rushing at people, and pooing on the beach at Inverloch in 2013.
The number of incidences is expected to be higher, with many incidents unreported.
The figures have been revealed as dog owners continue to protest against council’s dog beach ban trial at Inverloch.
A senior council officer has questioned the legitimacy of a community petition opposing the trial, saying some people signed the petition twice.
The Star heard the motion that resulted in the trial ban could be rescinded at the February meeting of council, but mayor Cr Neil Rankine said that would not be the case, with five of his six fellow councillors confirming they would not support such a move. He was yet to hear from the sixth councillor before going to print.
“Council has had to find a way to continue the discussion around this issue. The trial we are running changes the existing conditions to draw out community input,” Cr Rankine said.
“We have had a lot of input already, with a great range of views expressed. We hope that the Inverloch and broader community will work with us to find the outcome that most in Inverloch will understand and be OK with.
“This will take time and ultimately many won’t be entirely happy, but please bear with us.”
Under the trial, dogs are not permitted on Inverloch beaches managed by council between 9am and 6pm from December 1 until April 30. The same restrictions apply to Parks Victoria’s adjoining beaches.
There are 870 dogs registered to permanent residents of Inverloch and with thousands of holiday-makers in town for summer, that number would now be higher.
Council’s acting community and economic development director Antoinette Mitchell said many people in the community supported council’s trial ban.
She said the trial was an effort to reduce the risk of dogs causing issues on beaches at a time of year when the beaches were busiest.
“For everyone that wants dogs off leash, there is someone who wants them on leash or no dogs,” Ms Mitchell said.
“This is about the sensible management of amenity for everyone: dog owners, children and older people, everybody.”
Council rangers are patrolling Inverloch’s beaches twice a day and while no-one has received a $144 fine for breaching the ban, rangers have issued warnings.
Council has engaged consultants to hit the beaches to survey people about the trial, but dog owners believe that survey is wasteful.
Inverloch dog owner Shane Clements said two petitions against the trial yielded a total of 3200 signatures and that opposition was enough to give council a clear indication of the community’s concerns.
“Why is the council even paying this money to the consultants surveying people on the beach when dog owners are not even allowed to go on the beach?” he said.
“They are surveying tourists that do not even live here but the signatures we have got are from locals.”
That sentiment was backed by Inverloch holiday-maker Gary Warke.
He said the petition responses, more than 200 letters and emails to council, public demonstrations and letters to local newspapers showed the community’s outrage.
But Ms Mitchell said a petition against the trial did not carry as many signatures as trial opponents claimed and said some signatures were “doubled up”.
She said council initiated the survey to “get a balanced view”, and consultants would also undertake a random survey via phone.
Ms Mitchell said dogs have been banned from council managed beaches at Cape Paterson between 9am and 6pm from December 1 to April 30 since 2004. The same restriction applies to beaches at Kilcunda, Coronet Bay, Tenby Point and Grantville.
In South Gippsland Shire, enforcement on all beaches is overseen by Parks Victoria or the Department of Primary Industries and Environment.
In the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park, which stretches from Venus Bay to Waratah Bay, dogs are banned from all beaches between 9am and 6pm from December 1 until March 31.
Surf Coast Shire Council, which manages from Torquay to Lorne, bans dogs on popular beaches from December 1 to February 28 and over the Easter long weekend between 9am and 7pm.
Short URL: /?p=9741