Dog off-leash areas to be introduced across shire before Christmas

Two labradors running with a stick.

Dogs all over East Gippsland will be wagging their tails with the news dogs will be allowed off-leash in many areas across the shire. The new arrangement will be trialled for six months and comes into effect on Tuesday, December 17, 2019.

The decision by East Gippsland Shire Council at its November meeting was the culmination of extensive work in relation to dogs in public places laws in other municipalities and consultation with a volunteer reference group formed for the project.

While dogs will still need to be on-leash in built up areas, there will be greater freedom for responsible pet owners to walk their dogs off-leash in Council managed parks, reserves and outside of towns.

Dogs will still need to be on-leash when near playgrounds, barbecue areas, on shared paths as well as when activities are on, such as markets, sports games or training sessions. This allows these open spaces to be shared by all.

Mayor Cr John White said Council-managed foreshores and beaches will remain on-leash at this stage.

“Council understands many people enjoy walking their dogs near water. We have chosen to keep these as on-leash areas, but we will review these areas and some may be deemed suitable as off-leash areas in the future,” Cr White said.

Existing restrictions of dogs in national parks and similar reserves managed by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning remain.

Council’s General Manager Place and Community Stuart McConnell said owners remain responsible for their dogs and it is important that their dogs are under effective control at all times.

“Information from the Victorian Government indicates that most dog attacks, around 80 per cent, occur when dogs are not securely confined to their property or are wandering at large and without their owners, rather than when they are out walking.

“An initial review of council’s data shows similar results. So, it is important that dogs are contained with secure fencing when at home,” Mr McConnell said.

“Before going off-leash, it is important for owners to acknowledge both their own and their dog’s limitations. If your dog isn’t trained to come back when you call it, it is not under effective control and should stay on a leash.

All current law controlling dogs in a public place will still apply, including dogs at large or not securely confined to premises; dog rushes or attacks; and not picking up dog litter and disposing of it properly.

Mr McConnell said the off-leash sites already declared on Palmers Road, Lakes Entrance, and Bosworth Road, Bairnsdale, will be available in December.

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