Defer off-leash trials until significant dog issues have been addressed

Principal Petitioner Renate Hottmann-schaefer, Sandgate
Closing Date Tue, 31 Dec 2019
No. of signatures 29 signatures

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Residents draw to the attention of Council that the dog off-leash trials on Brisbane beaches and foreshores need to be deferred until the significant dog issues that deeply divide the community have been addressed. While the majority of dog owners are doing the right thing, there are those who underestimate the control they have over their dogs and what dogs can do. And then there are dog owners who simply don't care about anybody else but themselves, not only making it uncomfortable for others but also endangering people and wildlife.

This is not a new issue. There have been previous (failed) attempts to open up part of the 4017 foreshore to off-leash dogs in the past. Following a proposal put forward by the Sharing Shorelines Working Group to allow the area from Twelfth Avenue to the Brighton Park (the entire foreshore of Brighton) in December 2014 to be reserved as an off-leash area for dogs, a local community group lodged a Brisbane City Council e-petition that ended on 30 June 2015. "This petition is important because we believe that local people and vulnerable migratory shorebirds should be able to enjoy the use of the Brighton Foreshore without dealing with off-leash dogs. We want to keep the Brighton foreshore area safe for people to enjoy as the main priority for the area."

The community group consisted of people that were not represented in the Sharing Shorelines Working Group such as:
1. Parents of small children who do not want them to be approached by off-leash dogs.
2. Owners of dogs who choose to walk their dogs on a leash who do not want them to be approached by off-leash dogs.
3. Seniors who walk along the waterfront and sand flats who do not want to be approached by off-leash dogs.
4. Other recreational users of the waterfront (including kite surfers) who do not want to be approached by off-leash dogs.
5. Environment groups who are concerned with our commitments to the International Ramsar Convention.
6. Local residents who want to keep the foreshore available to local families rather than to become Brisbane’s destination for people from outlying areas, including Moreton Bay Regional Council, who bring their dogs.

Following this petition the proposal forwarded by the Sharing Shorelines Working Group was rejected in 2015. Unfortunately, since then nothing at all has changed. Far too frequently the Sandgate foreshore and other foreshores look more like off-leash areas with little control exercised by Brisbane City Council and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. On 19 April 2019, a toddler was attacked by two dingos on Fraser Island. This incident created headlines and the question of culling of dingoes was widely discussed, once again.

According to documents downloaded from the Brisbane City Council website, in the period between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018 at least 468 dog attacks on people and at least 669 dog attacks on an animal were reported. Almost none of those attacks seem to have made headlines and no actions to remedy this significant issue have been discussed. The Courier Mail reported on 17 January 2019 that an average of 38 animal attacks per week were reported to the Brisbane City Council last year. Former Lord Mayor Graham Quirk reported: “An alarming number of reports of aggressive dog behaviour and dog attacks have also been received by Council, with more than 1,800 complaints last year."

On Jan 17, 2019 it was reported in the Courier Mail that changes are being made to off-leash dog areas on Bribie Island following a spike in attacks on wildlife. With the proposed trial to allow dogs on Citycats, Council in effect declares all dogs to be potentially dangerous as it seems that they have to be either in a carrier or on a lead and wearing a muzzle.

Your petitioners therefore request for Council to defer the off-leash trials until significant dog issues have been addressed effectively.

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