Dog owners barking mad at council's strict beach rules
SAFETY fears for elderly dog walkers and angst with changes to local government laws have prompted Agnes Water residents to unleash.
Greg and Monika North, proud owners of dogs Lucy and Scamp, want the Gladstone Regional Council to reverse changes to its dog-free and off-leash zones at the township's main beach.
A dog-free zone at Tom Jeffrey Park and an on-leash area from the main beach to the surf life saving club access were enforced in March after the council changed some of its local laws.
Many residents claimed they were unaware of the changes initially and eight months later dog owners are barking mad with the realisation they have to walk 1.5km from the beach access to let their dogs off leash.
Mr North said another issue was the difficult access to the beach over the sand dunes at the SLSC.
Within two days of launching a petition to loosen dog-walking laws at the main beach and Tom Jeffrey Park, Mr North gained more than 80 signatures.
"You only have to walk a few hundred metres before you have hardly anyone on the beach, so to force older people who want to exercise their dogs to walk 1.5km, it's unnecessary," Mr North said.
Mr North wants the council to make the dog off-leash area closer to the main beach access, or allow looser rules before 9am and after 4pm, when most people walk their dogs.
"It's not going to be easy to get (the council) to back flip, but maybe there's an area for some compromise," he said.
"There's a lady here in Agnes Water who has a pacemaker, other older people have diabetes or they have crook joints, to force them to walk 1.5km when all they want to do is exercise their their dogs, it's unnecessary."
Deputy mayor Chris Trevor said the changes were made to protect the growing number of locals and tourists who visit the beach every day.
Cr Trevor said the council would investigate problems with the SLSC beach access next year.
"We feel very sorry we have to enforce these laws, it doesn't make us feel good," Cr Trevor said.
"We understand lots of seniors love to have their dogs on the beach unleashed. If there's a problem for seniors access we'll deal with it so they can continue to enjoy the beach in an unleashed area."
Mr North said there were some Agnes Water residents who supported the on-leash changes to Tom Jeffrey Park.
He said some people were in favour of the changes because of a roaming dog problem within the coastal township, or they had previous bad experiences with dogs off leashes at the beach. Of those joining Mr North's campaign, Penny Wilson and Dianne Hanlin wrote online it was unfair.
"I am sure there are more responsible pet owners than not frequenting the beach with their dogs and children in tow," Ms Wilson said.
"I believe on lead around the flags is fair enough... but once past the busy area it should be off lead," Ms Hanlin said.