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Byron Shire
December 6, 2023

Dog owners face tougher compliance action

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This pooch, like most pooches, is a very friendly chap and pawing the line. Photo Jeff ‘Who let the Photdog Out?’Dawson.

Dog owners beware, Byron Council is cracking down on those who allow their fur friends to breach the rules, including fining those who don’t paw the line.

A majority of councillors voted for a ‘minimal tolerance approach’ to enforcing dog rules at last week’s meeting, during which a local wildlife advocate told them that the current system was ‘broken’.

Council officers will now impose fines, or at least a formal warning, on dog owners who ignore the regulations.

The motion was moved by Independent councillor, Cate Coorey and Mayor Michael Lyon, and reads, ‘Council shares the concern of many residents and visitors at the number of dogs in sensitive ecological areas, on public beaches and roaming and/or barking in residential areas’.

Biodiversity at risk

These two adorable doggies are not indicative of the dogs that are causing problems on Byron’s beaches. Photo Jeff ‘Puppies Of Steel’ Dawson.

‘There is substantial evidence demonstrating that the presence of dogs has a negative impact on biodiversity.’

Particular emphasis will be placed on ‘nuisance, off-leash dogs and all dogs in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Belongil and Tallow estuaries and adjacent beaches and Broken Head beach adjacent to the Nature Reserve’.

There will also be a focus on enforcing the ‘no dogs’ policy in Wildlife Protection Zones, such as the ones in Hardy Avenue, Ocean Shores and at Lilli Pilli.

In addition, Council officers have been asked to put further enforcement priority and emphasis on off-leash dogs in towns and villages.

Earlier, Jeanette Olley from Byron Bird Buddies, said the current strategy for managing the 12,651 registered dogs in the Shire’s public spaces was broken.

A frustrated community

Any dog can be classed as a ‘nuisance animal’. Training needs to start when dogs are puppies. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘The community is frustrated with non-compliant dog owners and the frequent informal warnings aren’t working,’ Ms Olley said. ‘For the last financial year, there were 649 complaints – 101 were dog attacks, 123 were pound dogs, 410 were nuisance animal complaints, but only 57 fines were issued.

‘The statistics over time clearly show that the number of attacks and complaints are increasing in line with the decrease in penalty infringement notices.’

Ms Olley said that while in Suffolk Park recently she had seen ten dogs off lead, despite signs indicating that this was prohibited.

‘We spoke to several people, but one person in particular… was very abusive – the language was quite disgusting and frightening.’

Council has previously pursued an approach of informal warnings, education, and rewards for good behaviour as a way of encouraging dog owners to comply with the rules.

Council’s Manager of Public and Environmental Services, Sarah Nagel, told the chamber, ‘We’re not the police, we’re not here to punish people, we are here to educate people’.

Two councillors voted against the tougher approach: Independent Cr Sama Balson and Labor’s Asren Pugh.

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  1. They don’t mention the hundreds of dog owners who live in the bush and allow their dogs ( and cats) out at night with unrestrained access to wipe out the wildlife. The wildlife in Main Arm and Huonbrook has been greatly depleted over the last 15-20 years. Probably the same in the bush everywhere when country ignorant city dwellers move in with their dollars, dogs and their cats

    • Feral Cats have been here for centuries. Anything that was going to go extinct already has. They are native at this point, like Dingoes, and for the same reasons. Aboriginals aren’t from here either and a lot of species have gone extinct since they arrived, which is OK because Aboriginals are more highly evolved and advanced than the species they displaced. It’s just evolution at work.


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