Human and pooch – is there any greater bond?
Owners love to see dogs running in a park or wagging their tails when they get wet at the beach.
That’s why Wollongong City Council want to create three new off-leash park areas in Dapto, Wollongong and Bellambi.
Council staff also want to know if pet owners want dog park equipment to be installed.
Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery encouraged residents to have their say so the council could create a better experience for owners and their four-legged furry friends.
“We’re a city of passionate dog owners with more than more than 60,000 registered and unregistered dogs,” he said.
“An important part of being a responsible dog owner is to allow them to exercise and interact with other animals in appropriate places for the happiness of dogs, other residents and visitors.”
The community engagement is part of a scheduled review of the council’s Dogs on Beaches and Parks Policy. There are no changes proposed in the policy.
“I’m keen to hear community feedback on the proposal to add a further three dog parks to the list of spaces,” Cr Bradbery said.
The three locations for the proposed new off-leash parks are Reid Park, Dapto, JJ Kelly Park, Wollongong – which will have timed access – and Bott Drive, Bellambi.
Fencing of the three new off-leash areas will be considered after public feedback has been given.
Agility equipment could include jumps, ramps, hoops, tunnels and other obstacle-course equipment.
Veronica and Chris Dunleavy take their 18-month-old pooch Otis to off-leash areas around Wollongong regularly and they support the creation of the pooch-friendly areas.
“We live in Horsley where there are no dog parks,” Mrs Dunleavy said. “We would like to see the off-leash areas created at Reid Park and JJ Kelly Park.
“The off-leash areas give the dogs a chance to sniff around, have freedom and we can throw a ball. Dogs can meet each other and we also get to know other owners.
“It is important for the dogs to be very well-trained.”
Mrs Dunleavy said it was important for the areas to be fenced because it made it safer and more for the dogs.
However, Illawarra Dog Training Club’s chief instructor Mark Johnston believes there would be challenges if an off-leash area was created at JJ Kelly Park.
“As a club, we are not keen to see the off-leash area go ahead,” he said. “We have a licence to use the park and we are concerned what will happen when people want to use the park while we are training our dogs.
“We are also concerned because people do not pick up after their dogs.”
Mr Johnston believes the site is not suitable because the public amenities are too far away and questioned why the off-leash area was needed at the park when there was a leash-free beach about 100 metres away.
He also believes pet owners need more education about when they are allowed to take their dogs off the leash when approaching off-leash parks and beaches.
There are five off-leash parks at Proud Park, Helensburgh, Figtree Oval, Figtree, Riley Park, Unanderra, King George V Park, Port Kembla and Eleebana Reserve, Koonawarra. These areas are not fenced.
Dogs can also be off-leash any time at Coniston, East Corrimal, Little Austinmer, McCauley’s, MM, Perkins, Puckey’s, Sandon Point, Sharkey’s beaches.
There is timed access at several Illawarra beaches and dogs are prohibited at all times on other beaches.
The policy is on public exhibition until December 10 and people are able to review the document and provide feedback through the council’s Have Your Say website.
Alternatively, residents can talk to staff about their ideas at Viva la Gong in MacCabe Park, Wollongong, on Saturday.