HAPPY: Vicki McDowall says dogs like Isis need to play. Picture: Simone De PeakMORE dogs in Maitland will be running free – gums flapping and tails wagging – if the city council proceeds with its plan to create more off-leash areas.
Maitland local government area has 12,184 dogs registered and this is expected to increase in line with population growth.
Councillors are considering a plan to introduce five new off-leash areas, with two further sites planned as part of a new development in Lochinvar.
Of the six current off-leash areas, the council proposes to scrap three which are no longer considered suitable.
Maitland mayor Peter Blackmore said there were ‘‘quite a number of dog owners who have been requesting this’’.
Pet groomer Vicki McDowall, who owns Groom N Dogs in Maitland, supports the extra off-leash areas.
‘‘It encourages people to play with their dogs,’’ Ms McDowall said. ‘‘Too many dogs are left at home and they start barking because they’re lonely.’’
Dogs liked company and having humans around them, she said.
‘‘Dogs socialising with other dogs means they will be better behaved and well-balanced.’’
The council should consider fencing off-leash areas, Ms McDowall said.
‘‘It can be a danger if dogs are off leash.’’
A council report said fencing would be installed in areas where boundaries were unclear.
‘‘Fencing is a high priority, however, funding is dependent on future budgets and grant applications,’’ the report said.
Cr Blackmore said the council would first gauge the use of off-leash areas and the responsibility of dog owners.
‘‘Once the popularity is displayed, I feel confident we’ll look at further amenities,’’ he said.
Cr Blackmore, who is a dog owner, said there was demand for off-leash areas.
‘‘You really want to take dogs off leash at certain times, but of course you are mindful of the safety of other people, particularly young children,’’ he said.
The council was to have considered the plan at its meeting last night but it has been postponed for a decision at its next meeting.
New off-leash areas
■ Rathluba Lagoon
■ Anambah sporting fields
■ Les Circuit, Gillieston Heights
■ Lorn side of Belmore Bridge
■ Alliance Street, East Maitland
■ Lochinvar, two sites proposed
■ Bolwarra-Largs, site to be investigated
Off-leash areas to be retained
■ Verge Street, Telarah
■ Bakers Brickyard Quarry, Raworth
■ A&D Lawrence fields, Thornton
Off-leash areas to be scrapped
■ Vi Denny-Bowtell netball courts, Telarah
■ Greenhills Gardens, East Maitland
■ Beryl Humble Oval, Tenambit
Source: Maitland City Council