As part of its works to upgrade the perimeter fence on the oval at Donald MacDonald Reserve Council will not be reinstating a number of gates.
In line with its Sportsground Management Plan, Council is taking the opportunity to review how fencing can be used to benefit all users of mixed use facilities. In this case the oval is both a sporting facility and a designated off-leash dog area.
Fencing is valuable but it is important to get the balance right. Council aims to maintain a relatively safe space without fully enclosing the area which our date indicates results in poor behaviour by some users.
Under State and Local laws pet owners are required to have their pets under effective voice control if they wish to walk them off leash and are required to collect and dispose of their pet’s faeces.
Unfortunately our data indicates that fully fenced off-leash areas have significantly higher levels of irresponsible dog ownership than unfenced spaces. This includes destruction of playing surfaces, failure to keep dogs under effective control, people leaving their dogs unsupervised and failure to pick up dog faeces.
Over recent years Council Officers have been visiting fully fenced ovals to encourage owners to be more responsible but the behaviour continues.
While the number of irresponsible dog owners is small the impact on the rest of the community, particularly sporting clubs is large.
This means that sporting club members are forced to clean playing fields of dog faeces before play can commence. Council also receives reports of players being injured as a result of dogs digging holes in the playing surfaces.
Council acknowledges that removing the gates will mean owners have to pay closer attention to their pets. We also know however, that with even the best of intentions sometimes owners’ attention can slip. For this reason perimeter fencing is being retained and gates adjacent to roads or environmentally sensitive areas will remain. This means that dog owners will have an opportunity to recall their dog before they are in immediate danger.