CAIRNS Regional Council has reported a 30 per cent decrease in the number of dog owners breaking regulations at popular parks, beaches and foreshores following the introduction of a dedicated Animal Management Proactive Patrol team 12 months ago.
Proactive Patrol officers are out and about in the community each morning and afternoon, chatting with dog owners about their pets and reminding them how their behaviour can have a negative impact on other members of the community.
Over the past year there has been a steady decrease in the number of dogs found off-lead in on-lead areas and dogs in dog-prohibited zones such as sporting fields and playgrounds.
Acting Mayor Terry James said the Proactive Patrol team was put together in response to community concerns about dogs being allowed off-lead in high-use public spaces, leading to fear that people or other animals could be attacked.
“Dog owners, in general, believe that their dog is friendly and won’t hurt anyone, but even dogs that have never shown any sign of aggression can act out of character if they are scared, anxious or bothered by other pets,” he said.
“Many residents have also had negative experiences with dogs in the past and can be intimidated or frightened when they encounter a dog that isn’t on a lead.”
The dedicated Proactive Patrol team randomly attends 44 sites throughout the region during peak times for dog exercise, and has, over the past year, completed over 8,000 interactions with members of the public.
In October 2022, one in every four dog owners was noted breaching a Local Law, this fell to 14 per cent in June 2023 while the number of site visits where all dog owners were following regulations has also risen to 73 per cent compared to just over half in October 2022.
Cr James said that while there had been improvement in dog owners’ behaviour, there was still more work to be done.
“Our Patrol officers take an educational approach when talking to dog owners and our aim is to explain why walking your dog correctly is important and provide tips on making walking your dog on-lead easier rather than fine people, but if we see the same owner breaking the rules repeatedly, they will be penalised,” he said.
“While the Proactive Patrol program has been successful, we can’t be everywhere at once –ultimately, it’s up to dog owners to choose to protect themselves, their pet and the community.”
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