East Gippsland dog owners will be delighted to see the extension of the off-leash dog trial until July 2021, meaning dogs will continue to be allowed off-leash in many areas across the shire.
The decision by East Gippsland Shire Council at its July 7 meeting was to extend the Dogs in Public Places trial period for 12 months.
Mayor Cr John White acknowledged the impacts of both the summer’s bushfires and more recently COVID-19 restrictions had limited the amount of data and community feedback provided to Council to undertake a thorough and legitimate evaluation of the trial over the past six months.
“An extension of the trial period for a further 12 months will allow for data collected from the region’s peak tourist times, summer holidays and Easter 2021, to be included in the final report by July 2021,” Cr White said.
While dogs still need to be on-leash in built up areas, there is 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.
“Council has had a positive response from the community who enjoy exercising with their dogs in these off-leash areas, providing a great outcome and positive physical and mental health opportunities for our residents and visitors,” Cr White said.
Cr White said Council-managed foreshores and beaches remain on-leash at this stage. Dog owners remain responsible for their dogs and it is important that their dogs are always under effective control. 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.
More information on the trial is available from Council’s Customer Service Centres and website.