Dog owners push for off-leash area
THE loss of off-leash access for dogs at the Whitsunday Sports Park has sparked the launch of an online petition, spearheaded by Jubilee Pocket resident Melissa Wick.
Ms Wick and her husband previously walked their two dogs around the perimeter of the sports park oval, but a couple of weeks ago this was declared out of bounds. Dog owners are now limited to a small off-leash area to the east of the field that is currently overgrown and at risk from snakes and ticks.
Ms Wick says the nearest alternative leash free area is a very small park on Jubilee Pocket Road, which also contains childrens' playgrounds and is close to traffic.
"There are more than 5000 registered dogs in the area yet the facilities we have here are very poor. It costs me $122 a year for my two dogs. That's quite a lot of money when you really don't get anything," she said.
Paws and Claws proprietor Gill Graham said making the sports park off limits was "just the last straw".
"I completely understand why they banned dogs from there - because of all the dog mess, but this is why council should be penalising dog owners who don't clear up after themselves, not those who are just trying to exercise their dogs," she said.
Whitsunday Sports Park president Steve Tween said the decision to ban dogs was made by the sports park committee, not council.
"It wasn't a decision we took lightly and we understand that probably 90 per cent of people do the right thing," Mr Tween said.
"If a spokesperson wants to come to a sports park meeting with a better solution to keep faeces off the field we'd be happy to talk to them," he said.
Meanwhile Whitsunday Mayor Jennifer Whitney said she would be happy to receive the petition and gave an undertaking that council would keep the current off-leash area in a mown and tidy state.
The petition can be found online at http://www.change.org/en-AU/
Dog off-leash areas
Proserpine - Renwick Rd park
Jubilee Pocket - Sunbird Park, Jubilee Pocket Rd
Cannonvale - Section of bicentennial park next to tennis courts. Recently approved area of Cannonvale foreshore next to northern end car park between 5-7 am and 5-7 pm each day.
Airlie Beach - no dog off-leash areas