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Off-leash off agenda

Wednesday, 15th September, 2010

* Tanya Martin with her Golden Retriever Flame at Queen Elizabeth Park, where council were considering building a dog off-leash area. * Tanya Martin with her Golden Retriever Flame at Queen Elizabeth Park, where council were considering building a dog off-leash area.

Council is not planning to invest in a dog off-leash area for the city this year, even though they are obliged by law to provide one.

While Council's animal control manager Geoff Laan acknowledges that off-leash areas were "certainly part of this day and age" he said there were no plans to open one.
An inadequately fenced and prickle infested area behind the North Family Play Centre in Murton Street was once ear-marked for a dog off-leash area, but it is currently in the process of being turned into a stormwater retention dam.
Mr Laan said an off-leash area was more suited to a big city environment, where dog owners don't have wide open spaces to walk their animals.
"In the country areas, Broken Hill in particular, there are a number of open spaces"
He said if the council was to go ahead with the plan, certain aspects such as escape proof fencing would need to be built.
Mr Laan said the area would have to be governed by Council, to protect owners and their pets from dog fights.
Shade areas for dogs and people, dog waste bag dispensers and bins would also need to be installed at the site.
He said finding a place for the park in an area where it would get adequate use could be difficult.
Group Manager of Infrastructure, Paul DeLisio, said council had suggested Queen Elizabeth Park and Patton Park become off-leash areas, but he confirmed that work hadn't been budgeted for this year.
A letter to the BDT recently highlighted the frustration locals and visitors are feeling because of the lack of an off-leash area.
A woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she often visited her family in the city with her two Labradors and had phoned council several times over 12 months and asked which parks were off-leash areas.
Over the period of a year, she was told Council was "discussing" which parks to make leash-free.
On a recent trip to the city the woman said she was told by Council that A. J. Keast Park was an off-leash area, and she took her family and dogs there for the day, only to be told by a member of a local dog obedience club that the area wasn't off-leash.
"When I phoned Council back, after much discussion, I was told that they had made a mistake and that the A. J. Keast Park was not a leash free park, but that I could take my dogs to Penrose Park and exercise them off the lead there," she said.
"It's unfair to have to drive over 20km to Penrose Park to give my dogs a walk off their lead."
The woman said she had considered moving back to the city, but wouldn't because there was no place to exercise her dogs.
The secretary of the Ladies Kennel and Obedience Dog Club, Marion Kemp, said she thought the idea was one worth looking into.
"I think there's so many rules and regulations, the things you can do, the things you can't do; dogs need an area they can run around in," Ms Kemp said.
"(It's) somewhere dogs can go."
Ms Kemp said some dogs mix well and others don't, and it came down to common sense when owners and dogs used it.
Head trainer and president of the BH All Breeds Obedience Dog Club, Darryn Poldrugo, said the park sounded like a good idea.
Mr Poldrugo has more than 12 years experience in dog training, and said behaviour of dogs, a concern amongst some residents, was hard to predict.
"Some people have got their dogs under control and some have not."

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