Owners respond to Baw Baw's proposed dogs on leash policy [Poll]
 Baw Baw News   By // 18:15, Tuesday 12 November 2013

councillors baw baw the warragul citizen by william pj kulich

DOG OWNERS have expressed their concerns about the availability of off leash areas under the Baw Baw Shire’s proposed dogs on leash policy.

Pictured: Baw Baw councillors and directors. Photo by author.

The policy would require owners to keep their dogs on a leash or chain up to two metres long while in public spaces except for signed off leash areas.


In a special meeting to hear submissions on a number of proposed local law amendments last Wednesday dog owners told the council the policy was largely directed at the wrong people.

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Dr Andrea Reupert told councillors she had researched the issue and found no convincing connection between dogs being off leash and dog attacks and urged the council delay making its decision.

“Having a dog on leash doesn’t stop them from fighting,” Dr Reupert said.


“I could find no research that leashing dogs could [stop] attacks. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen, but there is no evidence.”

Dr Reupert said most attacks happen on streets near the dog owner’s property.

“I do walk our dog off the leash at Brooker and Civic Park, but I have been also attacked by dogs twice. I really understand the emotion attached to this,” she said

“Don’t make a decision, I don’t think you can because there’s no local evidence.”

Dr Reupert said council officers had told her information on dog bites in the region was “not easy to retrieve or accessible to public.”

Kerryn Riddington of Warragul said few dog attacks happened in public and argued problem dogs were often completely unsupervised, often after being released from houses neighbouring parks.

“I would like to report the incidents but I’m afraid the statistics would be used against dog owners,” Ms Riddington said.

“Off leash should not mean uncontrolled… I carry a leash at all times.


“A dog benefits mentally and physically from being allowed to run off leash.”

Warragul resident Chris Buckingham said the policy needed to be better thought out.

“This is a complex issue. It is not going to be fixed though a sweeping legislation or by-law,” Mr Buckingham said.

“We’re not looking at what makes a community a fair and reasonable place to live. I ask council to go away and think more deeply about this before creating an [ineffective] law.

“We don’t punish the best drivers on the road for the actions of a few [bad ones], so why should we do [the same] with dog owners?”

Dog owner Olive Lyon suggested a fenced Scenic Park would be appropriate but Civic Park was too busy for dogs to safely let off leash at all times.

“It is not good to see dogs charging after balls heading toward families and toddlers,” Ms Lyon said.

“I currently own a dog chosen to suit my age, walking capacity… and garden.”

“Despite 18 months at dog club he still doesn’t know the word come. I know what and who my dog is, which cannot be said for some dog owners.

“I’m quite prepared to not bring my dog to Civic Park, which I do once a week.”

But many speakers at the meeting expressed support for Warragul’s Brooker Park as an off leash area, saying it would not need to be fenced.


Concerns community not properly consulted

One speaker said she was concerned the community had not been made aware of the council’s intention to introduce the policy.

“A big issue that I found was.. when speaking to members of the community there aren’t many people who are aware,” the speaker said.

“I did my own survey [of 10 people] and asked people if they knew there was an issue. None knew.”

She said advertising in the Baw Baw Buzz was hard to find.

“I just cannot believe a decision could be made on this subject without consulting the community.”

Other speakers also expressed concern about how the law had been publicised.

North ward councillor Deb Brown was not present at the meeting.



Click here to see the full proposed amendments document.

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9 responses to “Owners respond to Baw Baw's proposed dogs on leash policy [Poll]”

  1. Rod Cameron says:

    Warragul is a country town … Keep it that way.

  2. Shelley says:

    I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. It is about responsible pet ownership more than anything. I have a 2yr old Staffy x & he always has a harness & lead on when walking not because I don’t trust him but because I don’t trust other people & their pets.

  3. Cheryle says:

    I’m a dog owner, I let my dog off the lead but when there is other dogs around or to many people around she goes on the lead.
    She is a quiet dog out and about, loves people. Only barks when she is home protecting the yard.
    Most dog owners know what there dog is capable off so it shouldn’t be a problem,like everything there is a small amount of people out their spoiling it for everyone else.
    Why punish the ones doing the right thing.

  4. Katrina says:

    Unfortunately Warragul is growing fast which means more people and more dogs in this area. Growth brings many new issues that need to be considered and addressed. I totally agree with Shelley, any responsible dog owner should not have a problem with this dog leash policy, nor should they have a problem with ensuring that their dog is always securley confined to their yard when at home. I am a dog lover and have owned dogs all my life. The dog leash policy does not prevent people from running their dogs off leash, it just sets specific areas for this to be done. The public spaces in the Baw Baw Shire are there for EVERYONE to enjoy and keeping dogs on leash in public areas ensures that public spaces are always enjoyable for everyone using them.

  5. ned says:

    We need designated area’s for off lead play and a law that states ‘dogs on lead’ in all other public areas. I have two dogs, live in Drouin and don’t want me or my dogs annoyed or attacked by offlead dogs whilst out in public places. To save any disputes or possibilities of attacks etc, keep your dog on lead. Simple!
    Two many dog owners assume that all dogs are ‘friendly’ and want to ‘play’ with other peoples dogs. This isn’t the case.
    My two dogs (like everyone elses) are loving and friendly to everyone that comes to my house, however, their behaviour is not always like this when approached by other dogs when out in public. Hence why my dogs are always on lead when outside of my home.
    Pass the law for dogs to be on lead at all times, except in designated areas. Get some balls Baw Baw Shire and make it happen. What are you waiting for? A bad incident to happen to finally make a decision?

  6. Julie Grant says:

    Local government is responsible for good governance for citizens – not dogs. People’s welfare and well-being must come first. How the dogs feel is a matter for individual owners, not the Council.

  7. Hans van Meurs says:

    I have been a dog owner in the past and have had some nasty experiences with 3 out of 12 of my well behaved friendly dogs of so-called docile breeds. One was my former wife’s favorite but it bit her on the face without warning giving her an infection in the jaw which required hospital treatment. The same dog, on a lead, also bit a passing cyclist without warning at a shared use public path. Thankfully, my “ex” took custody of that dog when we separated. In my childhood, two family pet dogs had to be destroyed after sudden attacks on people which required medical attention. I will not own dogs anymore. I am very concerned whenever a dog approaches me and I am not reassured by owners telling me their dog does not bite or is under control. The proposed changes to the shires local laws may produce some improvements to safety and enjoyment of public shared spaces. I will not be using any “off-leash” areas and I regret that these areas will be off limits to other people for the same reasons. I expect that some will argue that I have been unlucky, or I haven’t been trained in effective dog control, or my choice of breed was inappropriate, etc. No-one can predict animal behaviour all the time. Not all people can effectively control their dogs “off leash”. “Off Leash” areas (or “off leash” times used by some shires) are a concession to the many dog owners but comes at the expense of full use by others.

  8. Lorraine says:

    So where will the designated off lead area be for Drouin?

  9. ned says:

    Once this law has been passed (Baw Baw shire, it will be passed won’t it?!!) the Shire MUST write to all ratepayers, AND pet owners (remember, not all dog owners are ratepayers, they may be renting in the area), and advise the change in law.
    I was at junior cricket last Saturday morning, and several people had their dogs there (no problems), yet not on lead. Dogs were running onto the oval, one even cocked his leg on the cricket stumps!! Disgraceful.
    I used to take my dogs to cricket too, but don’t anymore. Why you ask? Because the ‘off lead’ dog owners make me highly uncomfortable and nervous about possible dog attacks and fights.
    Come on Baw Baw Shire councillors, pass this law as a matter of priority AND don’t forget to reach everyone pet owner within the shire to inform them of the new law.