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Byron Shire
May 19, 2024

Calls on Byron Council to improve ‘Dogs in Public Spaces’ strategy

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Longtime local Steve Medcalf rescued a bush wallaby from a dog attack on the beach near Elements Resort. Photo David Hancock.

A group of community members from across the Byron Shire has come together asking Council to ‘make further amendments to clarify and improve the [Dogs in Public Spaces] Strategy and re-exhibit it’.

They highlight a range of issues that need further clarification including the ‘unique biodiversity values of Byron Shire’. They explain ‘the potential for negative impacts’.


However, it is in the area of compliance that they highlight the specific areas of attention required. 

‘The submissions and community consultation highlighted the need for a more proactive compliance approach but this has not been reflected in the Strategy,’ they say. 

In particular, they emphasise the importance of dog owner responsibility.

‘This should be the primary information made available with the QR code and should include the fines currently applicable for breaches of the Companion Animals Act.’

They point out that roads and pathways in urban areas are also public land and that these should be free from ‘threats from irresponsible dog management’.

‘Residents can experience anxiety from unwanted interactions with dogs and that disrupt their sense of place and safety in their neighbourhood, including the stress of the potential to disturb or injure wildlife,’ they point out. 


Three are ongoing issues of negligent dog owners which lead to injuries to other dogs, wildlife and people in the area (see Letters p.13) . The importance of funding for compliance is therefore key.

‘The funding of compliance is raised as a constraint but we believe that the council has a responsibility to fund its commitment to the community and believe a more robust approach to the issuing of warnings and fines for breaches will result in outcomes and change the behaviour of those who don’t show respect.’

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  1. Irresponsible rat bags come to town with puppies, desert them when they stop attracting women and this happens. Time and time again.
    Responsible dog owners would never allow this to happen.
    Why do the responsible locals always have to be penalised by blow-ins?

  2. This document is shocking. It is meant to be a balance for community, environment and then dogs. Most councilors own dogs and are reticent to vote in anything that re quires dog owners to put dogs on leads in public areas till on a leash free area which all villages have. Since Covid dog numbers have increased to the extent that there is nearly one dog for every household ….yes that is an unbelievable number of dogs but check. Byron is meant to be one of the last bastions that has a somewhat credible environmental control of its shire. But it is being overrun with dogs and cats. Our native species are being killed for want of a better guide to help improve their situation. Dogs off lead everywhere, in National Parks, Reserves, Crown Land. Entitlement is creeping into this shire, if I live here then I’m going to do anything I dam well please. Well there is community that have guide dogs that cant walk down the main street in Mullum because our dog compliance team doesn’t see the many unruly dogs not on leads with their owners having a chat with a mate and their dog is bailing up said working dog. They can no longer come into town. Many people with disabilities are quite frightened of dogs and have them constantly walking up to them and their support coordinators are left dealing with irate owners. Dog owners have to start thinking of others as well as themselves. All dogs on leads in public spaces, with a tag on their collar so they can be quickly and safely returned if lost, a bag to pick up poo, and a friendly owner. Our wildlife deserves better. Remembering that this is their home which we decided to share with them. These holidays try and remember to share this area and care for our amazing species that we share our piece of heaven with. I used to own dogs and lost them beginning of this year. Plus I was on the Companion animal group for eight years. This DIPS paper needs to be redone,

  3. As a member of the “dogs in open spaces “ working group I agree wholeheartedly with comments in this article .
    There is no need to stir up emotions with pictures of injured wallabies, many many more wallabies are killed on the roads than are on off leash dog beaches.
    This council is underfunded and dis functional in many areas so there is little chance that there will be more rangers and regulation to keep irresponsible dog owners in line.
    The Companion Animal Act needs reviewing to take into account the growing popularity of dogs, so maybe a change in state government to labor will usher in a change at the local level too.

    • Actually Jill this is a photo of my dad and was taken in north belongil where is it a no dog beach. We are a dog loving family but frequently deal with aggressive and entitled people who choose to ignore the rules and take their dogs into these environmental refuges. Infact just today another wallaby was killed by dogs in this very spot. It is important to use these photos to stir emotion in people and create that culture of speaking up!

  4. Why is it that its always we need more Police, we need more Enforcement, and scare mongering and fear tactics are always the first choice?
    Brunswick heads and Mullum has honestly probably one of the best Dog cultures in the country. all you have to do is go down the dog beach of a morning to see how well dogs are socialized and interacting with one and other. It is a culture that must be protected and that doesn’t mean giving a right wing conservative dog group who’s name implies they are the only “responsible dog owners” the right to a private police force enforcing their agenda.
    People shouldn’t be treated like criminals for taking their dogs for a walk regardless of whether they are on lead or not. People should not be abused for choosing not to have collars on their dogs if there is no danger to community wildlife or other dogs.
    This can easily be done by simply having a common sense approach and a ranger that does the rounds and knows the people and the dogs.
    Instead we have these horrendous COMMUNITY ENFORCMENT vehicles driving round looking for people to publicly throw against a wall, and criminalize in a heart beat. Dogs are scanned for micro chips and considered guilty until proven innocent, and responsible owners are left brutalized by the experience.
    Yes, of course we need to police and remove dangerous dogs, but that is not what is happening, dog attacks are something that is so random they can be very hard to prevent and that’s the truth. Owners of lap dogs need to consider that they purchased that kind of dog to suit their life style and that larger dogs are a fact of life. I would be 100% for a special area specifically on a section to the left of brunz surf club be allocated for small dogs with frightened owners, that would likely solve a lot of these complaints that are constantly quoted by council.
    at the end of the day its about community working together to form a well balanced etiquette not about more rules and regulation tying up bucket loads of money and the time of people that is needed elsewhere.
    I honestly believe that all of this trouble has been started by a minority of people that have got nothing better to do than complain about anything they can think of and its killing what is a beautiful thing.. The beach I grew up on as a little boy walking my dog I can no longer even walk my dogs on, the car park is full of luxury SUV’s and rich peoples spawn cover the beach. It was once a place no one knew about..
    so if you want to talk about entitlement, yeah, I want to be entitled to be not marched down and followed by a squad just for walking my dogs.


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