EVERYONE loves to be at the beach in summer, but the four-legged friends of some beachgoers are giving authorities and other users a headache.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is reminding dog owners who come to enjoy the peninsula’s beaches that they must follow the rules surrounding dogs or face being fined.
The issues are leading to unrest in some coastal communities, with some dog owners ignoring or misunderstanding the regulations.
Sarah Nelson, of Dromana, said she avoided going to her beach at busy times because of the many dogs running around off leash and their owners not picking up dog poo.
“I like dogs, but at the beach they run around and get excited, go to toilet on the sand and charge at people. It can be intimidating,” she said.
“Not only that, I have seen dogs get aggressive toward other dogs and I think it’s only a matter of time before a dog attacks a person.
“Only two weeks ago in Dromana near the pier a large dog off leash seriously attacked a little dog being walked by its owners and seriously injured the poor thing.
“Imagine if that little dog had been a child or anyone who couldn’t defend themselves?”
Following a call for more dog beaches on the peninsula last year, social media was flooded with posts about the excrement that dogs often left on beaches, and the damage caused to the environment.
The council’s community safety and compliance manager, Shannon Maynard, said most dog owners were responsible and did the right thing.
“But unfortunately, some owners disregard the rules and let their dogs off leash in an on-leash area or allow them into a prohibited area,” she said.
All dogs in a public place or reserve on the peninsula must be kept under effective control at all times with a leash held by the owner and attached to the dog.
The only exception is where the council has declared a reserve or public place a designated leash free area or an area prohibited to dogs.
Mr Maynard said dogs can only be at beaches before 9am and after 7pm during daylight savings hours, but always on leash.
Beaches are not designated dog-free unless signed as such.
Mr Maynard said even when a dog is in a designated leash free area, the owner must carry a leash and remain in voice or hand control and within sight of the dog at all times.
“Our community safety officers patrol all shire-managed beaches and most beaches managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s committees of management,” she said.
“If one of our officers observes any offence during their patrol, they will take enforcement action, such as issuing a warning or an infringement notice.”
There are a number of council-managed, leash-free beaches on the peninsula, however none of the state-government managed beaches are leash-free.
All dog owners must pick up after their dogs, even on dog beaches, as required by law.
Information on leash free areas, including beaches, can be found on the shire’s website.
First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 8 February 2022