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Update on review into cat and dog controls in shire

Cute puppy and kitten.

Council is reviewing more than 460 responses from residents who provided feedback recently as part of a review into local animal controls in the shire.

Monday 31 August 2020

Mount Alexander Shire Council is reviewing more than 460 responses from residents who provided feedback recently as part of a review into local animal controls in the shire.

Council had a positive response to the four-week consultation, with 444 electronic surveys and 19 hard copy responses completed.

The feedback will be used to develop a new law known as an Order of Council for the responsible control of cats and dogs in the shire.

Mr Jeffry Amy, Coordinator Community Safety and Amenity said the response was extraordinary and thanked residents for their contribution.

“We know how important pets are to people. They provide companionship, reduce stress levels, help get us outdoors, and encourage us to increase our social connections,” said Mr Amy.

“The feedback was fantastic and representative of our community, with survey respondents coming from a range of wards within the shire.”

“There was also a good balance of representation from dog and cat owners, as well as non-pet owners,” said Mr Amy.

As part of the consultation, Council reached out to different sectors of the community including residents, sporting groups, disability groups, schools, youth groups, businesses, and relevant stakeholders such as animal shelters, local veterinarians, pet training groups and more.

Feedback shows residents are supportive of initiatives such as:

- the introduction of a cat curfew
- an increase in ‘on-lead’ areas for dogs in some towns
- a provision to allow dogs to be temporarily secured to a post or pole while its owner undertakes shopping.

“Survey respondents are very concerned about cats and their impact on native wildlife, with many people worried about cats invading their properties,” said Mr Amy.

More than half of all survey respondents requested cats be contained to a property at all times.

The survey highlighted support for dogs to be on-lead in townships including Castlemaine, Maldon, Chewton and Campbells Creek, and in places such as the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens, parks and reserves, public meetings, sporting or community events and festivals.

“The current Order of Council stipulates that dogs must be on-lead at all times when in the Castlemaine and Maldon CBD, but not in the wider areas of those townships,” said Mr Amy.

“With more than half of all respondents indicating dogs should be on-lead more often than not, there is the possibility that this could be expanded.”

“Under the current Order of Council, pet owners aren’t permitted to tie a dog to a pole or post while they pick up groceries or run quick errands”, said Mr Amy.

“Many residents were happy to have provision made for this, provided the animal is securely tethered to a pole or post, and not causing a nuisance and displaying non-threatening behaviour.”

Council staff will now draft recommendations for a new order based on community feedback. The recommendations will be assessed and reviewed by Council before the new Order of Council is drafted and presented for adoption later this year.

Once adopted, the order will be distributed to the community in conjunction with a shire-wide education program to ensure residents and visitors are familiar with the new regulations as they come into effect.

“The feedback we received from the survey will result in better, more relevant regulations,” said Mr Amy.

“The proposed Order of Council will benefit the entire community by offering dog and cat owners a clear framework for when and where their pet needs to be placed under effective control.”

“We all deserve to feel safe in our public spaces and the proposed law will aim to ensure this.”

Councils have wide powers under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 to make laws and ensure they are followed by issuing fines and taking further action. A proposed Order of Council would not apply to working dogs or guide / assistance dogs.

For more information, contact Mr Jeffry Amy, Coordinator Community Safety and Amenity, on 5471 1700, or visit www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/HaveYourSay

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