MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Anthony Marsh has called for calm over a proposal to change dog access to public areas.
As part of the Domestic Animal Management Plan 2021-2025, a “dogs in public places” policy will be considered at a council meeting in July, to allow time for community consultation and amendments after a draft policy was withdrawn from the 8 February meeting.
The policy will cover designated off-leash and prohibited areas for dogs on shire-managed land.
Marsh said there had been a lot of misinformation and concerns about the policy proposal, with some dog owners “jumping the gun” over being potentially banned from sports ovals.
“That’s not even on the agenda anymore, so people need to wait for the draft policy to come out,” he said.
Council’s manager of community safety and compliance, Shannon Maynard, said the July meeting would decide whether the policy was ready for public consultation.
“As part of the consultation process, community members will have the opportunity to have their say on the draft policy,” he said.
“Invitations to provide feedback will also be sent to a range of stakeholders, such as sports clubs and dog clubs.”
The draft policy has so far had a mixed reaction from sections of the peninsula’s dog owners, with some concerned about the proposal to ban dogs from sports ovals and playgrounds.
At least 12 dog parks from Mount Eliza up to Portsea could be out of bounds for dogs and only one leash-free park remaining on the southern peninsula.
Leash Free Mornington Peninsula founder Christine Healy last week said more. Dog parks should be available as the region had one of the highest levels of dog ownership in Victoria.
There is also support for the policy, with some dog owners upset that irresponsible owners “ruin it for everyone”.
Dani Robinson, of Mount Eliza, said she had twice been forced to leave the Mornington leash-free park because of dog owners not controlling their aggressive dogs.
“I’ve seen smaller dogs get attacked in the dog park by larger dogs and I think it’s just going to get worse … all because of irresponsible human behaviour and people who ruin it for everyone,” she said.
“Hardly anyone uses [the park] anymore.”
Maynard said once the final policy had been adopted, there would be a focus on education and raising awareness at any site where dog controls had changed.